Spoilers abound in what comes next.
What is Cloverfield? Cloverfield is a giant monster movie, one with shaky cam and new yorkers and the Statue of Liberty being beheaded. 10 Cloverfield Lane has nothing to do with that. It’s a complete turnaround from that first film and other than the last 20 minutes or so has nothing to do with giant monsters at all. The giant monster in this instance isn’t even a giant monster, it’s actually a spaceship with a giant monster as its ooey gooey center. So how do these two films relate to each other?
My theory is that Cloverfield is Bad Robot’s catchphrase for alien invasion. The first film ends with something streaking through the sky and landing in the ocean, weeks or days later a giant monster or alien is tearing up New York. The second takes place under an alien invasion apocalypse scenario as the last part of the film shows us. Each has Cloverfield in the title and I think that is the key. Abrams and company have dealt extensively with aliens with other films like the Star Trek films and Super 8. The Trek films are just that, set in the universe that was established by Roddenberry and on down through the ages (though the Cloverfield monster even pops up on an ice planet in Star Trek). But then there is Super 8 to consider. It has an alien. That alien is menacing people, It is killing people and tearing apart a town, That should qualify it for the inclusion of Cloverfield in the title, right? Not quite. What sets that film apart is that it is not an invasion flick. It is a riff on ET, where the alien just wants to go home. There was no invasion, and the alien is only where it is because of us. We did that. However if the alien from Super 8 came back with all its friends (and who knows, maybe that is where the aliens came from in 10 Cloverfield Lane), then the film could be rightly titled with the Cloverfield signifier.
I hope I am right in my thinking here. I would love to see a series of films where each one bears the Cloverfield namesake, but deals with the idea of alien invasion in a different way or on a different scale. It would be an awesome way to allow small budget or riskier, more indie influenced films like 10 Cloverfield Lane have life and a voice while tying into a larger concept, into a kind Bad Robot multiverse. It would be fresh and exciting and offers an infinite amount of genre possibilities and genre cross pollination.