05/02/2018 14:26 GMT | Updated 05/02/2018 15:13 GMT

‘The Cloverfield Paradox’: Everything You Need To Know About J.J. Abrams’ Cinematic Universe

You'll be an expert in no time.

It’s not uncommon for film trailers to debut during the the Super Bowl - ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Star Wars’, we see you - but Netflix went one better in promoting their latest original.

As many movies fans predicted would be the case, a third ‘Cloverfield’ movie was trailed during one of the breaks, but the streaming service then stunned everyone by announcing that ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ would be avaliable online as soon as the football game ended.

This information naturally sent fans of the J.J. Abrams-produced franchise into a spin, and within minutes, the title was trending on Twitter - stealing the limelight from Justin Timberlake, the Han Solo trailer and even giving the actual football game a run for its money too.

But if you’re not familiar with the ‘Cloverfield’ universe, then all this fuss probably isn’t making much sense. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s the lowdown on all things ‘Cloverfield’…

So... what is ‘Cloverfield’?

Let’s start with the easy stuff.

The first movie, simply titled ‘Cloverfield’, hit cinemas in 2008 and sees six New Yorkers attempting to flee the city as a variety of monsters attack.

‘Cloverfield’ uses found footage-style storytelling and in a bid to keep the horror film’s plot under wraps, J.J. created fake scripts for the auditions and when the cast landed their roles they didn’t actually know what they’d signed up for.

In 2016, a second film, ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ arrived in cinemas just two months after the first trailer was revealed.

Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock
The first film's poster arrived back in 2008 

These first two instalment were both given traditional, cinematic releases and the cult of ‘Cloverfield’ developed largely thanks to some seriously impressive viral marketing campaigns.

The second was trailed with an Alternate Reality Game, that fans had to complete in order to find out the movie’s title and release date.

The previous focus on creating detailed campaigns make the decision to “Beyoncé this film even more surprising and perhaps explains why everyone - and please excuse our French - lost their shit when the trailer was revealed midway through the Super Bowl.

The title itself has a pretty mundane backstory: “Clover Field” is the freeway exit JJ Abrams takes when en route to production company Bad Robot’s offices.

Are the films a straight-forward trilogy?

No. While all three are set in the same universe, they do not run chronologically, and the links between the projects are a little less obvious.

Unlike with traditional franchises, ‘Cloverfield’ is more of an umbrella term and all of the films tell separate stories with similar themes and horror elements. It’s the same way ‘Black Mirror’ works, with the slight tweak that every ‘Cloverfield’ story takes place in the same universe.

Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman in '10 Cloverfield Lane' 

In the first film, Cloverfield is the “the government’s case designation for the events caused by the monster”, as director Matt Reeves previously explained.

“It’s the way that this case has been designated. That’s why that is on the trailer, and it becomes clearer in the film. It’s how they refer to this phenomenon [or] this case”.

In the second film, things were more obvious, as 10 Cloverfield Lane was the address where the events took place.

We’re not going to spoil the third for you, but its title is obviously ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’, so it shouldn’t take you too long to work out how it fits in.

Who’s in the new one?

The film boasts a seriously impressive cast with Gugu Mbatha-Raw - who you probably recognise from the ‘San Junipero’ episode of ‘Black Mirror’ - taking the lead.

Her co-stars include David Oyelowo (‘Selma’), Elizabeth Debicki (‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’) and Chris O’Dowd (‘Bridesmaids’).

As ‘Selma’ director Ava Duvernay pointed out on Twitter, there’s plenty that deserves applause when it comes to the cast and crew:

What are critics saying about ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’?

Press were not given access to the film prior to its release, so critics had to make like the rest of us and hotfoot it straight over to Netflix as soon as the Super Bowl ended.

After devouring the film, numerous critics have given their verdicts online and sadly, the reviews are not great.

John DeFore, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, didn’t hold back, labelling the movie “a trainwreck of a sci-fi flick bent on extending a franchise that should have died a peaceful death almost exactly one decade ago”, while the Guardian’s Benjamin Lee declared it “a monstrous mess”. Ouch.

Will this be the final instalment?

Nope. While all things ‘Cloverfield’ are usually kept under lock and key, fans have managed to deduce that a fourth film is in production and could be ready as early as October 2018.

At the moment, it’s widely thought that the title could be ‘Overlord’ but we think that will probably change before its release. A synopsis of ‘Overlord’ reads (via Reddit): “The story follows two paratroopers who are caught behind enemy lines after their plane crashes on a mission to destroy a German Radio Tower in a small town outside of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.

“After reaching their target, the two paratroopers come to realize that besides fighting off Nazi soldiers, they also must combat against supernatural forces that are a result of a secret experiment.”

‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ is available to stream on Netflix now.