The Cloverfield Movies Timeline Explained
The future truly did unleash everything.
In the 15 years since Cloverfield’s theatrical release, the world originated in director Matt Reeves’ massive sci-fi movie has grown through a loosely connected anthology. While the order of events isn’t exactly the same as the Cloverfield movies in order, the story that emerges is something that creates a lot of room for future stories to be told. Combing through the three existing movies, here’s what the Cloverfield timeline currently look like, starting with the films in their order of release.
The Cloverfield Movies, In Order Of Release
The release order of Paramount’s Cloverfield franchise is a fixed point in time. Naturally, this list will change whenever Cloverfield 4 starts to take shape, but at the moment there are only three films to keep track of. Here’s how the series shakes out in order of release:
- Cloverfield (2008)
- 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
- The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Following the rules of reality, it’s a nice straight line through the stories that bear the name Cloverfield. However, that’s where the easy path ends for this saga, as the events of the movies are tied up in theories that suggest space and time cross paths to create the events we’re about to recount. To start the timeline off properly, we need to head to the future, and begin with 2018’s The Cloverfield Paradox.
2028 - The Cloverfield Space-Time Paradox Is Created
In terms of the story to the Cloverfield series, it technically starts in The Cloverfield Paradox. While the anthology approach was taken with 10 Cloverfield Lane, it seems that the Netflix original movie has laid down a foundation to tie all three installments together. With that new twist came a new origin point of events.
By this point in human history, energy is scarce and the world is poised on the brink of chaos. A multinational experiment known as the Shepard Accelerator was meant to generate limitless energy eventually became a success. The downside to this new discovery, as a rift in the space-time continuum is opened as a result.
The entire Cloverfield Station crossed an inter-dimensional boundary twice, traversing from its own home to another world and back again. Survivors Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Ernst Schmidt (Daniel Brühl) eventually escaped back to Earth through one of the station’s escape pods. By the end of The Cloverfield Paradox, a scientific breakthrough has torn a hole in the fabric of the universe and unleashed several creatures on the face of potentially multiple earths.
April 26 - 27, 2007 - Rob And Beth’s Day Of Romance, Clover Crashes To Earth
After being long time friends, Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth McIntyre (Odette Annable) have finally hooked up. While Rob eventually ghosts Beth after their coupling, we do see the two go to Coney Island the day after. Since Beth had never been, Rob wanted to show her a day of fun and romance at that iconic New York landmark.
Previously, this was also supposedly the day when a fragment of the satellite ChimpanzIII crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, supposedly agitating Clover and its Human Sized Parasites (HSPs), eventually driving it to land. However, in a recent interview with SyFy, Matt Reeves has stated that this is the moment Clover, aka “the Cloverfield Monster,” actually crashes to Earth. Which introduces another interesting wrinkle in the timeline we thought we knew.
TBD 2007 - Clover Causes The Chuai Station Disaster
One of the key events to take place during the Cloverfield's iconic Alternate Reality Game marketing was the Chuai Station disaster. A drilling platform stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, it was an outpost that was part of the Tagruato Corporation’s deep sea mining operations.
In the weeks before the film’s release, the story of eco-activists infiltrating the soon to be sunk station played out through various news reports, videos, and messages on 1-18-08.com. Setting up the Tagruato Corporation and the eco-activist group known as T.I.D.O. Wave, photo evidence of HSPs was also released from the cameras on Chuai Station.
The timing in the ARG suggested that this event took place in December 2006, as it preceded the movie’s events/release. However, since Matt Reeves has now placed Clover’s arrival during the Coney Island footage shot by Rob and Beth, this event is now firmly placed between the two time frames that are shown on Cloverfield’s recovered tape.
Unless, of course, the Large Scale Aggressor that took down Chuai Station is another creature altogether. Either way, the clock was already ticking, and Clover’s journey to New York would soon reach its final destination.
May 22 - 23, 2007 - Clover Emerges From The Ocean, Manhattan Is Destroyed
The other half of the events shown in Cloverfield take place over this period of hours. Theories state that the HSPs irritated Clover, causing the creature to lash out and invade Manhattan Island. After several unsuccessful attempts to kill the creature, Hammerdown Protocol is initiated by the US Government, “leveling the whole damned city.”
Through successful airlifts, and evacuations through the remaining bridge and tunnel system, approximately 1.4 million residents & visitors were successfully evacuated from Manhattan Island. The only confirmed survivors from Rob Hawkins’ going away party are Lily Ford (Jessica Lucas) and Travis Martello (Ben Feldman).
The entire group we follow in Cloverfield’s narrative is presumed dead, and according to information in presented in the Special Investigation Mode version of the movie, Clover is presumed dead as well.
January 18, 2008 - The Cloverfield Footage Is Viewed
Between the viral marketing timeline and the actual real world period that Cloverfield’s narrative was built over, 1-18-08 was ingrained as an important date in the timeline. Since the events of that night didn’t take place in January, it’s to be presumed that the audience is accessing the footage recovered from US-447 (the site formerly known as “Central Park”) on that very date.
1-18-08 is really the day that Cloverfield was released into theaters. So taking the April/May timeframe of the tapes in world, we can place those events as happening in 2007. If you watch the film in Special Investigation Mode, you can learn about all sorts of other events that took place on the night; as well as some outstanding threads that remain open.
2008-2016(?) - Unknown Events
We don’t know what exactly happened between 2007 and 2016, but there’s some hints as to what could be explored. As Cloverfield 4 is supposedly a direct sequel to the original Cloverfield, there are some questions that can finally be answered after being raised in the extended narrative.
For instance, the previously mentioned Tagruato Corporation was under active investigation after the events of Cloverfield. With CEO Ganu Yoshida as a person of interest in both US and Japanese investigations, this could be part of the story that Cloverfield 4 follows. At this time, we don’t know if that’s the case, but there’s no shortage of potential.
March 2016 - The Events Of 10 Cloverfield Lane Occur
The mostly unseen disaster of 10 Cloverfield Lane takes place at some point in March 2016. New Orleans is the setting for the film’s main events, but Houston is also mentioned as a location that’s been hit by the “invaders.”
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), and Howard Stambler (John Goodman) hole up in a bunker for an undisclosed amount of time, which eventually sees Michelle emerge as the lone survivor. She escapes, and narrowly survives an encounter with massive armored creatures who are only known as those “invaders” mentioned at the end of the film.
Connections Throughout The Cloverfield Timeline
Some huge connections running between The Cloverfield Paradox and other entries are lined up here. First, Howard Stambler’s presumed brother Professor Mark Stambler (Donal Logue) was the one to hypothesize The Cloverfield Paradox. Second, Emmett mentions a “mutant space worm” theory that Howard has about the creatures in the film.
Once Cloverfield Station crossed dimensions, the station’s worm colony disappeared. Some of them were found in the body of Volkov (Aksel Hennie), but it could be presumed that some of them became the gigantic alien creatures shown in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Which, again, may be taking place in a dimension different from that of Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Perhaps the most mysterious link is the one between The Cloverfield Parodox and Cloverfield. As Clover is presumed dead, there’s a potential that it may have survived the Hammerdown Protocol that levelled Manhattan Island. That question arises from the fact that in The Cloverfield Paradox’s ending, we see a Large Scale Aggressor of the same species poke its head out of the clouds as the escape pod from Cloverfield Station reenters the Earth.
Questions are where the excitement lies in the Cloverfield franchise. As the next chapter makes its way to production, this is where fans will undoubtedly be focused, looking for clues as to what might lie ahead. In a world where the future unleashes the past, there's no telling who might have the answers we seek.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.