Understanding the Fine Print of the Cloverfield Universe (No Spoilers)
So some months back, I hear about 10 Cloverfield Lane, and like anyone who was a fan of the original Cloverfield movie, I was genuinely excited we were getting the sequel we had always secretly hoped for. The way they had ended the first film felt hopeless, and for any of us who loves giant monster movies, a part two would have told us what happened next. Like if the monster was ever taken down or what effect that New York devastation had on the rest of the world. But nope, come to find out. 10 Cloverfield Lane had NOTHING to do with Cloverfield (literally, nothing, was written as its own script called the Cellar, which Abrams production company bought and then “placed” inside the Cloverfield “universe”). Wait, Cloverfield has its own universe?
Yes, and it gets weirder. Let me try to clear some of this mystery up for you right now. It is actually kind of genius once you crack the code.
Yes, the original Cellar script was written by two men named Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken, and it had NO connections to any universe but the one it created in said script. A cool, self contained story about a girl being held in strange circumstances that she cannot fully understand. To tell you more than that would be to ruin this (pretty badass) story, and I am not about to do that. But again, to reiterate, it had (and has) nothing to do with the giant monster, found footage movie from 2008.
So what links it to the Cloverfield universe? Nothing. the “Cloverfield Universe” was created for this movie. Seems like it makes no sense, I know, but remember, Hollywood is a business, above all else, and this was a calculated (and brilliant) business move on Bad Robot’s part (Bad Robot being J.J Abrams production company).
What Connects It?
So this is where shit gets a little shady. Abrams (or someone very close to him) knew enough to know that the Cellar was a well written piece (my brother said it best when he called it a Twilight Zone episode put on film), but they also knew that, with no hook in the current blockbuster filled Hollywood, it would fall flat. This is where he went “evil genius” on us.
Frankly, I am not even mad (though I was when I found this out, initially). What connects it is the word “Cloverfield”, and what Abrams worked out is kind of unheard of. Oh, my new Cloverfield universe just means…
A UNIVERSE WHERE STRANGE AND OTHERWORLDLY THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
That is all.
Think about the massive, sweeping generality there. Like I said, evil genius (whose work I worship and am not trying to undermine). But that is what makes it so genius. By placing the name of Cloverfield onto science fiction or horror scripts he buys now, he can INSTANTLY have an audience for that movie who would maybe not have given it a chance. Do you have the right to be mad? Yes, if you wanted a giant monster movie. But if you can see it for what it is, no. And, he DID come out and say that it was in the same universe, but did not have the monster. We do have to give him credit for that. He tricked us, but only kinda, and didn’t trick us with a crappy movie. He at least stuck the title to a movie that was a good ride. Not a game changer, but a good ride.
So What Next For The Cloverfield Universe?
That is the single greatest question here, and none of US can answer it. When you make yourself a cinematic “universe”, you can take it in any direction you want. J.J is obviously trying to do a science fiction thematic universe, so who KNOWS how massively it will expand. Let us not forget, this is the same man who just gave us the greatest Star Wars movie of all time, so the possibilities for this universe are boundless and endless. Now we can sit back and see where he takes it, and where it, in turn, takes us.
So yes, it was manipulative to make a universe just so people will go see a movie they would not have otherwise seen. But if he holds the Cloverfield universe to the same standard as his other work, this could be an amazing thing. We just need to give it time to grow legs. Giant, city crushing legs.
By the way, speaking of geek movies…..