SPOILERS for the Cloverfield films ahead.
The first two Cloverfield films seemed to be unconnected entries in an anthology series, but The Cloverfield Paradox has given these movies a connected timeline. Sort of.
Here’s the Cloverfield timeline in chronological order.
The story actually starts with the third entry, The Cloverfield Paradox. In the year 2028, Earth is in the midst of a global energy crisis. This is causing all of humanity to become destabilized and is even plunging the world into a potential world war.
In an effort to create an infinite energy source, the Cloverfield space station tests a particle accelerator called the Shepard. If successful, the energy created by the Shepard will be harnessed and shared with all the nations of Earth.
But, the experiment causes space and time to rip open holes to other dimensions across multiple universes, including the current 2028 universe in The Cloverfield Paradox. On the Cloverfield station, strange spatial and dimensional anomalies take place, including a character from a totally different dimension showing up on the station.
Meanwhile, on the 2028 version of Earth, giant monsters start appearing across the globe and generally make a mess of everything because that’s what giant monsters always do. This information isn’t known by the crew of the Cloverfield space station, and when the survivors finally escape and make it back to Earth, they are in for a terrifying surprise.
In the final shot of The Cloverfield Paradox, we see the creature known as Clover that also showed up in the first film, Cloverfield. So, does this mean that The Cloverfield Paradox takes place in the same universe as Cloverfield? Not exactly.
At the same time the particle accelerator accident in the 2028 universe happens, portals to these monster-filled dimensions also open up in other universes. One is the universe we see in Cloverfield.
In this universe, the Clover monster appears in New York City in the year 2008 and the events of Cloverfield take place, similar to what seems to be happening in the 2028 universe at the same time.
In yet another dimension, the one in which 10 Cloverfield Lane is set, different kinds of creatures show up instead of the familiar Clover monster. They seem to be some kind of biomechanical aliens with a clear motive in regards to taking over the planet, as opposed to the Clover monsters that just seem to be acting on pure instinct.
The year in 10 Cloverfield Lane is never said outright, but it can be assumed that this takes place around the time of the film’s release, so probably 2016 for that dimension.
If these interdimensional portals are popping up all across a multitude of universes, then this means that future Cloverfield films can take place in infinite realities and at any place and time. Though, all the universes we’ve seen so far look to be realities that are mostly analogous to our own plane of existence. So far, we’ve only seen universes that mirror our own.
The fourth Cloverfield film is rumored to be set during World War II, proving that these dimensional portals can pop up anywhere and at any point in time. Let’s just hope they don’t actually show up in our universe.
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast at his website, The Drew Reviews. He’ll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.