Warning: SPOILERS for The Midnight Sky are ahead!
Though movie theatres are largely off the table for the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix has you covered when it comes to offering new blockbuster films starring top actors.
The Midnight Sky is the film adaptation of the 2016 sci-fi novel, Good Morning, Midnight, which was written by Lily Brooks-Dalton.
George Clooney plays Arctic scientist Augustine, who races against the clock to try to stop a team of astronauts (played by Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, and Tiffany Boone) from returning from space to a post-apocalyptic Earth.
Much of the premise of the film centers around Augustine's journey to protect the astronauts, but the Earth's destruction is a key driving force.
What happened to Earth in The Midnight Sky?
What happened to the Earth in 'The Midnight Sky'?
The Midnight Sky begins in February of 2049, which is three weeks after an unidentified apocalyptic event altered Earth. Referred to throughout the film as "The Event," it has essentially made most of the planet unfit for civilization.
Augustine aka "Augie" has been living and working at the Barbeau Observatory, which is located in the Arctic Circle. When everyone else vacates due to the fallout from "The Event," he stays behind, as he is terminally ill.
Meanwhile, Augie learns that the astronauts on the Aether mission are attempting to return back to Earth. They've located another planet that is able to support life, and they're none the wiser about the occurrence of "The Event."
As Augie tries to stop them from coming back, he realizes that a little girl, Iris (Caoilinn Springall) has also been left behind at the observatory. He tells her how dire the situation is for the Aether crew.
"It's a spaceship far away, coming back from a planet we hoped would be our future," he tells her. "But, things didn't quite turn out that way. That's why I have to contact them. Now, before it's too late."
Though the actual cause of the destruction is never disclosed, there are a few hints made throughout the film that have viewers speculating that it was an environmental catastrophe.
During the opening of The Midnight Sky, Augustine checks the Air Quality Index at the observatory for radiation levels, and the "Global Spread Cases By Day." If radiation is in the air, it makes sense that Augustine and Iris would be the last humans affected, since they're living at one of the Earth's poles.
The data on the map that Augustine looks at confirms this as well.
It shows that many major cities around the globe have already been hit with deadly levels of radiation, while the Arctic Circle remains untouched (so far).
It's inevitable that everyone on Earth will die, which is why the other Barbeau Observatory employees left — they want to spend their final days with their loved ones.
Per Digital Spy, the cause of "The Event" is not revealed in the book Good Morning, Midnight either. So, it's really left up to the viewers' imaginations.
Is Iris real in 'The Midnight Sky'?
Another burning question that many viewers have had after finishing The Midnight Sky is about Iris. Does she turn out to be a real character, or is she just a figment of Augustine's imagination as he lives in isolation?
It's actually the latter. Viewers learn that Sully, the Aether astronaut Augustine's been attempting to communicate with, is his biological daughter.
Sully's full name is Iris Sullivan, and she was inspired to become an astronaut by her mother, Jean (Sophie Rundle).
Flashbacks of Jean and Augustine (who is played by Ethan Peck in these scenes) were shown throughout the film. While Augustine knew of his daughter's existence, he was far too focused on work while she was growing up. He never knew that she became an astronaut. He only saw her briefly when she was a child, which is the version of Iris he creates in his mind at the observatory.
When he learns who Sully really is, he becomes emotional, especially because he was able to connect with her before his own demise. The moment is all the more poignant because Sully herself is also expecting a baby.
Though the conclusion of The Midnight Sky leaves some things up in the air, the final few minutes showcase hope.
The Midnight Sky is available to stream on Netflix now.