Earlier this week, horror and sci-fi fans were met with a surprise unlike any other, as The Cloverfield Paradox was released on Netflix.
The third entry into the Cloverfield franchise debuted immediately following this year's Super Bowl, giving fans only a few hours between the film's trailer and its release. Despite a mixed-at-best critical reception, fans of the "Cloververse" have found quite a lot to focus on, especially with regards to Easter eggs.
While the original Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane are more spiritual sequels to each other, Paradox serves as an interesting link between the two, complete with multiple levels of Easter eggs and references. Here are ten that we've found (so far).
Okay, let's get the biggest one (literally) out of the way.
While it has yet to officially be confirmed by those involved with the film, a running theory connects the two monsters seen in Paradox to the original Cloverfield monster.
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment during the film's first act, a silhouette resembling the original "Clovey" appears to be seen walking through the ruined city, just as Michael (Roger Davies) rescues Molly (Clover Nee).
This ties pretty well to the running fan theory surrounding the monster in the film's final shot. As Abrams' confirmed around Cloverfield's 2008 release, the film's titular monster was "just a baby", making some fans eager to see what exactly a full-grown version of the creature would look like. And, well, it seems like the monster at the end of Paradox was that adult monster, with its teeth and general body shape the same.
The biggest difference, of course, is the size of the two monsters, with Paradox's Clovey easily stretching high above the clouds. This raises about as many questions as it answers - particularly, whether or not the two films exist within the same universe. (More on that in a bit...)
One of the earliest Easter eggs in Paradox - long before the film's title was even announced - was the appearance of Mark Stambler (Gotham's Donal Logue). Through the Cloververse's extensive ARG campaign, fans began to discover choppy videos of Stambler, in which he waxes poetic about what monsters the particle accelerator's "paradox" could cause.
While what Mark Stambler is saying is significant enough, the very mention of his name opens a whole other can of worms altogether. Namely, the running assumption is that Mark is the brother of Howard Stambler, the character played by John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane.
If you believe that the Cloververse films take place in the same universe, this lines up pretty well, as both brothers seem to share a similar preparedness about a sort of oncoming apocalypse.
But if you believe the other prevailing theory - that each film stands in its own separate universe, whose monster invasions were caused by the events of Paradox - then Mark's appearance is something else altogether. Does Howard also exist in the universe of Paradox? And does Mark exist within the world of 10 Cloverfield Lane? At this point, any guess is likely.
Paradox also contains a rather subtle Easter egg to the Stambler brothers, with a control box in the film featuring the Tagruato logo.
The Japanese company has been a weird sort of enigma within the Cloververse, as the films' ARG has linked Tagruato to two major things - deep-sea drilling and research, which reportedly led to them finding the main ingredient in the soft drink Slusho! (More on them in a bit.) Tagruato also ties to some other sort of technological company, Bold Futura, which Howard Stambler worked for before essentially devoting his life to his conspiracy theories.
Over the years, fans have assumed that Tagruato's deep-sea drilling led to the appearance of the original Cloverfield monster, but the company's appearance in Paradox could indicate that they caused it by something else altogether. But what exactly that is is yet to be seen.
As previously mentioned, Slusho! has a weird place in the Cloververse - something that is certainly echoed by its brief cameo in Paradox.
The adorable-sounding drink company has a role in all three of the franchise's films (as well as in episodes of Alias, Heroes, and Fringe, and the 2009 Star Trek film, but that's a whole other can of worms). Cloverfield opens with a going-away party for Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David), who had accepted a job at Slusho! and was soon set to move to Japan.
The drink can also be briefly seen in 10 Cloverfield Lane, during the film's gas station scene. In Paradox, a sort of Slusho bobblehead can be seen on board the Shepherd, continuing the mythology even further.
And a third company name that can be seen in Paradox is Kelvin, a gas station chain. Like Slusho, the name appears throughout J.J. Abrams-involved projects, as it serves as an homage to Abrams' grandfather. Within the Cloververse, it was first seen in 10 Cloverfield Lane, as Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was seen filling up her car.
The Kelvin logo returns twice in Paradox, appearing first as a gas station that Ava and Michael visit, and later on a hatch that Commander Kiel (David Oyelowo) opens. And its appearance, albeit brief, raises quite a few questions amongst fans.
Does the Kelvin in the world of 10 Cloverfield Lane have a farther reach than we believed, manufacturing both gasoline and space stations? Or does the Kelvin in Paradox's first universe sell gasoline, while the one on Jensen's (Elizabeth Debicki) universe built the Shepherd?
Stambler isn't the only Paradox background character whose presence raises some questions, as Suzanne Cryer's newscaster character opens a whole can of worms.
Cryer can be seen interviewing Stambler early on in the film, and unintentionally creating another connection to 10 Cloverfield Lane in the process. In the earlier film, Cryer played the role of "Screaming Woman", who begs for Michelle to let her in to Howard's bunker before dying.
Cryer is arguably a little less recognizable in 10 Cloverfield Lane, making her return to the Cloververse something that viewers wouldn't immediately catch. But for those who have, it creates a whole scope of questions. Is Cryer playing the same character? If each Cloververse film is really set in their own separate, but parallel, universes, how do the versions of Cryer's character differ from each other? Does Cryer's character in 10 Cloverfield Lane also have ties to the Stamblers, or is her appearance an unfortunate coincidence?
This connection is not as easily confirmed, but it's still made fans speculate nonetheless.
In 10 Cloverfield Lane, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) tells Michelle about Howard, and mentions that she should "hear his theory on mutant space worms."
As can be seen in Paradox's second act, space worms do play a unique - and rather gross - role, resulting in the death of Volkov (Aksel Hennie).
Is this a coincidence? Or could it be something more?
On that note, there are plenty of subtle Cloververse homages throughout Paradox, which arguably serve as connections in their own right.
The first big one comes when Michael and Molly try to rush for safety, which Michael finds in a friend's bunker. For franchise fans watching the film, this line created a little bit of worry, wondering if 10 Cloverfield Lane's Howard - or someone tied to him - would be involved with that bunker.
And the later homage occurs in the film's final moments, as Ava and Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) escape down to Earth in a pod. While the coast they fall into isn't the same, many have seen this as an homage to the ending of Cloverfield, which showed some sort of mysterious satellite falling from the sky.
Could the Cloverfield satellite be tied to the Shepherd - or another universe's version of it?
Connected to that is another 10 Cloverfield Lane line (man, that movie has way more possible connections than we thought back in 2016), which seems to connect the film's invasion to the Shepherd firing up.
In the film, Emmett describes the attack as the following: “It looked like a flash. Bright red. Like an explosion from way far off. It wasn’t like fireworks. Naw, this was more like something you’d read about in the Bible… This wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen.”
As some eagle-eyed fans have noticed, the Shepherd's particle accelerator undergoes a color change when entering full power, turning from purple to bright red.
This certainly seems to support the theory that the Shepherd's actions caused each of the other film's incidents, despite them occurring at drastically different points at time. Which brings us to...
As we wrote about earlier this week, the original Cloverfield shares a connection with Paradox that genuinely has to be seen to be believed.
At 18 minutes and 20 seconds of Paradox, the Shepherd particle accelerator is officially launched - syncing perfectly with the first rumbling of monsters in Cloverfield.
This symmetry also has another layer when you pay attention to the dialogue being spoken in the Cloverfield scene. In it, Jason Hawkins (Mike Vogel) tells his brother Rob (Michael Stahl-David) to "Forget the world, and hang on to the people that you care about most." Not only is the line the last thing really said before the monster noises start, but it captures the plot of Paradox almost too perfectly, as Shepherd team initially thinks that they made the entire Earth disappear.
And "hanging on to the people you care about most" summarizes the overall arc of Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who struggles with the loss of her two young children.
Sure, the original Cloverfield wasn't attempting to set up a sequel with that line, but it proves to be a pretty interesting connection post-Paradox. It's also sure to make fans look at Paradox - and the two films before it - in all kinds of new ways.
The Cloverfield Paradox is now streaming on Netflix.