This post contains major spoilers for The Cloverfield Paradox and previous Cloverfield movies.
Born from 2008's Cloverfield, resuscitated with 2016's 10 Cloverfield Lane, and expanded with the drop of the surprise Netflix original The Cloverfield Paradox, the "Cloververse" was never really meant to be a franchise. But for fans willing to play mastermind J.J. Abrams's game, there have been threads spun from the very beginning.
Abrams and his production company, Bad Robot, famously love the "Mystery Box." Unpacked in his 2007 TED Talk, Abrams's story of being gifted a mystery box from the local magic shop as a child and neglecting to open it, realizing the excitement of possibility was more enthralling than whatever cheap knick-knack was inside, has become as well known as Hitchcock's 1939 lecture at Columbia University where he laid the narrative groundwork for the MacGuffin. The Cloverfield franchise -- named after the street the Bad Robot production offices are on -- is where Abrams's Mystery Box scheming collided with instinct to nurture up-and-coming directors. Like the particle accelerator experiment in Cloverfield Paradox, the resulting genre movies would spawn new worlds and possibility for sequels.
The so-called Cloververse has connective tissue that largely seems added on top of each film's science-fiction premise. Fans of the anthology series use the online and viral marketing of each film to learn more about the Cloververse world(s) and, up until The Cloverfield Paradox, released Sunday after the Superbowl concluded, they had assumed the connection between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane was merely in the realm of tonal similarities and easter eggs. They -- OK, we -- were wrong.
The Cloverfield Paradox attempts to explain it all by explaining almost nothing that came before. There was a Mystery Box inside the Mystery Box the whole time. Here's how things line up.