Warning: SPOILERS for Underwater are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, and want to be surprised by its twists, turns and deaths, then back out of this story and return once you’ve cleared that particular coast.
This past weekend, aquatic terror saw a new contender enter the ring, with the Kristen Stewart film Underwater attempting to set itself up as a potential original franchise. Though looking at the movie’s less than stellar performance this past weekend, Fox might have been wiser to sell the idea to another studio and cut its losses.
I say this because looking at the building blocks that Underwater had in its Lego set of horrors, there was another option that could have been a better fit. Should this script have been sold to the folks at Paramount and Bad Robot, we could have seen the perfect Cloverfield prequel slotting into the series’ history.
Before we dive too deep into this wild movie theory, it should be noted once again that the good folks behind Underwater were working for 20th Century Fox when making this creature feature. That’s important because as much as we’re going to talk about Cloverfield being a perfect cinematic shipmate for this particular project, these are two beasts of very different families.
Put your helmets on, as it’s time to make our way into the wreckage and put together the pieces that could have turned Underwater into another adventure in the Cloverfield saga.
Both Underwater And Cloverfield Deal With Gigantic Creatures
It’s pretty obvious that Cloverfield and Underwater have a thing for gigantic creatures, and both films do have their own absolutely stunning designs to call their own. As the former film has a more Kaiju friendly look, and the latter has something that’s a straight-up Eldritch horror, the fact is that these are two separate projects are rewarding for fans of a good beastie.
However, the basic plot of a story involving a big creature wreaking havoc on a human populace is something that definitely overlaps, with Cloverfield being the tried and tested brand name out of these two projects. So for the sake of improving the odds of this film’s box office performance, it would have been an easier feat to hold Underwater back from release for a little longer and rework it into the big origin story for Clovey’s debut. Though it should also be noted that both monsters also have a similar feature built into their biology, as both creatures have an army of parasitic symbiotes that can be used to attack those pesky humans they face.
This strategy has been used before, as the film formerly known as God Particle turned into The Cloverfield Paradox. While some of you may have winced at the mention of that film, it did turn out to be a streaming hit on brand name alone. And with the fan support that Underwater has drawn with its original story, that brand could have been a boost to this project's prospects.
The Cloverfield Monster’s Origins Are Very Similar To Those Depicted In Underwater
Perhaps the strongest aspect to this idea is the fact that in the extended universe of the Cloverfield story, that there’s an event so crucial to the origins of writer Drew Goddard’s story that already mimics what we saw happen in Underwater.
During the viral marketing campaign that led audiences through the mysterious world of Cloverfield, one of the last events to precede the events of director Matt Reeves’ film was the collapse of a deep sea drilling platform.
As there were even establishing shots of such a platform included in the trailer for Underwater, there’s so much common DNA between these two properties, it feels like including Kristen Stewart’s fight with this nameless creature could have perfectly made this universe a little more whole.
Underwater’s Lack Of Backstory Presented A Huge Opportunity
One of the reasons Underwater is such a mixed bag when it comes to responses is, quite frankly, you either love or hate the way the film just drops you into the action. From frame one, there’s very little going on in terms of world building as crucial details are filled in as time goes on.
And yet, if Underwater was rewritten as an entry in the Cloverfield universe, this could have been forgiven. The rich history of lore that Paramount’s sci-fi franchise possesses serves as a benefit for such a hypothetical proposition.
With everything from an eco-activist embedded as a spy to a shadowy corporation drilling for its own nefarious profit, Cloverfield dovetails with some of the details that Underwater already included in its monster mash. All there needed to be was some quick rewrites, and connections could have been made to the very events we saw transpire.
How Underwater Could Have Worked As A Cloverfield Prequel
Put all of these aspects above together, and what do you get? A deep dive into the rabbit hole known as Cloverfield, with a reworked version of Underwater’s basic nuts and bolts. The following pitch for a film we’ll call The Cloverfield Inception, which would unfold right before the events of Cloverfield, but take into account the events of The Cloverfield Paradox as well.
Kristen Stewart’s Norah Price could have been retconned into the role of Teddy Hanssen, eco-activist for the group T.I.D.O. Wave. Replace Tian Industries with the Tagruato Corporation, and the story becomes about drilling for Deep Sea Nectar, the top secret ingredient in the company’s wildly successful Slusho drinks.
With Price’s backstory now giving her a background as an ecologically motivated person, as well as having someone back home waiting for her, we’d still get the tragic arc that sees Norah sacrifice herself to destroy the corporation’s drilling operation, as well as trying to rid the world of a gigantic beast.
But in a plot twist, it would be revealed that the monster was actually Clover’s parent, and destroying this baby’s caretaker unleashed the child into the waters of the world. It wouldn’t take long before this child would make its way to New York’s shores, engaging in the events we saw in Cloverfield just as the film ends.
Is this theory for Underwater’s stealth inclusion into the Cloverfield series a stretch? Yes, but only a minor one, as the DNA between these franchises is so similar, two cast members from Paramount’s series, T.J. Miller and John Gallagher Jr., just so happened to be cast in Underwater. So clearly someone was on a special wavelength when making this film into what it became. And we're not the only people that have made this connection either, which only bolsters this hypothetical case.
There’s no going back now, as Underwater is out in theaters. And unless Disney really wants to sell the project to Paramount and Bad Robot for reshoots and reediting, it’s the way it’s going to stay. It doesn’t hurt to dream though, and this dream is a pretty beautiful nightmare from where we’re standing.