Netflix rang in Super Bowl Sunday with a wild bang, taking a note from Beyoncé by dropping a surprise film release of The Cloverfield Paradox, originally entitled God Particle. The black led film directed by Julius Onah and starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelwo, Ziyi Zhang, Roger Davies, and Chris O’Dowd was the sleek surprise that everyone needed to cap off a dry halftime show.
The Cloverfield Paradox pays homage to Event Horizon and Alien through the intimate setting of the Cloverfield Space Station and the tight crew of characters, which brings you into the familiar setting of any space horror film of days past. But what The Cloverfield Paradox brings to this possibly overdone trope is a true genre-splicing, mind-bending story with a diverse cast. There are plenty of straight reviews out there, but as I tried to write my review I was overcome by multiple theories which I plan to outline for you…RIGHT HERE!
In the first Cloverfield film, all the shit popped off during a birthday party in a world that was relatively peaceful and safe before the Invasion. There were no blackouts or impending world wars as there are within this movie. As you watch The Cloverfield Paradox, you slowly realize that the universe where the crew hails from is actually an entirely new continuity.
You’re thinking to yourself: this can’t be true? Did we watch the same movie? Girl, you’re reaching. But I am going to break down my Cloverfield Paradox theory.
Let’s start off with the opening of the film.The film begins on earth with Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, Hamilton, and her husband Michael stuck in traffic amidst rolling blackouts. They are discussing Hamilton’s impending journey to space to help save the earth. The film doesn’t specify the crisis and implies to us that the blackouts and traffic are due to the giant monsters we have come to know from this series. Only later do we find out, aboard the Cloverfield Station, that the world is running out of energy and the Shepard particle accelerator device on board is the key to solving the world’s energy deficit.
The world Paradox is set in is much more technologically advanced than any of its predecessors. In 10 Cloverfield Lane, the main character is clearly in the early 2000s. She is working on a first gen iPhone, and the world she lives in is clearly meant to mirror that of the first movie. Paradox is such a sharp departure from that definite timeline, from its ambiguous setting at the start, to the existence of the actual Cloverfield Station and the Shepard drive.
The technological advances and leaps in Paradox could be justified by a leap forward in time, but remember, if that were the case, the world would be swamped with alien airships and monsters. So then where is the Cloverfield Paradox timeline in relation to the Cloververse?
Well, the big thing to look at within this film is the idea of a multiverse. When the Shepherd malfunctions and throws the crew of the Cloverfield Station into a parallel universe, Hamilton and the other crew find Elizabeth Debicki’s Jensen in the wall of the station, experiencing literal quantum entanglement (see what I did there?). Jensen is the key to my Cloververse theory. See, when they switch universes, not only do they move in space but I believe the station also moves forward in time. Jensen’s world is one at war with itself. They don’t explain what the war is, really, but they do imply that it is the same energy wars that are impending back in Hamilton’s universe. But go with me for a bit on this one: what if Jensen’s war is actually the one we saw starting at the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane? What if Jensen’s universe is the universe we have been based in all this time?
When the two universes slammed together, it is perfectly possible that the monsters moved from Jensen’s world to Hamilton’s. Now I know this really seems like a reach, but stay with me. Let’s look at the characters in the film and how each are affected when they hop universes. Volkov merges with his other self to occupy one space in the universe, which has some adverse effects, to say the least. Hamilton is safe, with the other Hamilton on the earth with her still alive children. Schmidt is also safe in the end; he sabotaged the other ship, so I believe before it crashed he got on an escape pod and got the hell out of there. Mundy, meanwhile, is slowly ripped apart in a reality where he died when the other Cloverfield station crashed into the ocean. All of the characters’ others are accounted for, with the exception of Ziyi Zhang’s Tam; my theory on her character is that she was never in the universe they appeared into. If someone appears in a universe they don’t exist in, then the universe, like a body with a foreign virus, tries to edit out all the wrong, hence Tam’s random drowning and then freezing. This also explains the deaths of all the characters who died in Jensen’s Cloverfield Station crash, and the fact that Hamilton and Schmidt survived.
But what does all this have to do with Jensen? Right, sorry: when the ship disappears and the two universes entangle for just for a second, all the characters and their doubles shuffle. After they all shuffle, Hamilton’s husband finds a random little girl in the rubble of a hospital. Molly is lost and screaming, and Michael whisks her off to safety. The odd thing about Molly is her unscathed appearance in that decimated hospital, and the framing director Julius Onah uses whenever they cut from Molly to Jensen’s face in the other universe. It is later revealed that Jensen is close friends with Hamilton; so close to her family that Hamilton’s kids call Jensen auntie, and that Jensen can tell when Hamilton is sad.
I believe Molly is displaced Jensen from the past. When Micheal works to find Molly’s parents it is revealed that they are in America; yet Michael is in London with Molly. When he picks Molly up she seems lost and confused. With the quantum entanglement theory, the universe tries to align all the characters involved in the paradox. In doing so, it takes Jensen, who is just a girl in America in Hamilton’s original timeline, and drops her into Michael’s lap, ensuring that she grows up with him and has a close relationship with their family, as she does in the other universe.
What does this Cloverfield Paradox theory mean for the Cloververse? It means that Jensen’s war-torn world is the world we left at the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane and that the Cloverfield Paradox is a reboot to the franchise’s continuity as a whole. I believe that the original Cloverfield universe is Jensen’s dimension, and the one that the Paradox team came from and wanted to return to is a new continuity all together.
In conclusion, watch Cloverfield Paradox, if you haven’t already! It’s an amazingly diverse film with gorgeous cinematography and great effects work.