The Men in Black movies were a cultural touchstone of the late 1990’s. They had pretty much everything you could want from a 90’s movie, including Will Smith rapping over the credits in a song specifically written for the movie. They were a fun little trilogy of movies, even if the latter two never really managed to capture the magic of the first installment. We have a new movie coming out later this year titled Men in Black: International and stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson shared their memories of the first movie to Entertainment Weekly. For Hemsworth, the heart that former stars Tommy Lee Jones and Smith brought to their roles was one of the highlights.
“The shot that’s sort of iconic to me from this whole franchise is Will running through the street in that initial pursuit, which was just such a great way to introduce that character. It has that kind of melding of something that looks like a cop movie, but there’s also a big sci-fi element obviously inserted in there that I just loved, the sense of humor the films always had. It was fantastical enough to be fun and entertaining, but it still felt grounded in that alien intergalactic landscape.
I also think they made these two relatable leads [with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones] where you knew just enough about Tommy Lee’s backstory without going into great detail — just enough to instantly be aware of what you give up to be in the agency. There’s this heart with both characters, which is essential in any sort of highly elevated genre sort of film like this, you know?”
For Thompson, it was that song and music video that she remembered clearly, but also the worldbuilding that is put into creating a universe where humans and aliens co-exist.
“The theme song really [brings back] memories of dancing to that and mimicking what happens in the video. And probably also the slime — I just remember when the aliens die, the way they do it in that sort of Technicolor. That neon slime and probably Will Smith being catapulted in various ways are it for me. The first movie in particular, but all of them really, it holds up so much to an adult sensibility. And as a kid, it really captures the imagination of an alien world in which we can coexist with other life forms in a way that’s just so brilliant.”
The Men in Black series is all about the idea that there are aliens out there and most of them just want a place to (safely) call home. There are plenty of people on both sides of the alien’s debate and whether or not there is life out there, so Entertainment Weekly decided to ask the stars of this franchise. For Hemsworth, he believes it would be naive on multiple levels that we are the only planet that has achieved life.
“Yeah, I think it’s naïve to think there’s nothing else out there — that we’re alone in the universe — for two reasons. On a ‘How could there not be?’ level, a pure sort of small scientific understanding of it, I think there has to be something else. But even more so, it’s kind of a boring idea to think that it’s just us, you know? I like just sort of getting caught up in what else exists in the universe, and whether one day we will ever find out fully or be able to travel there. It [appeals to] the sense of adventure I’ve always had from a young age… And for the survival of our species, of course, dear God, I hope somebody’s coming to rescue us from ourselves.” [Laughs]
As for Thompson, she also believes but also understands that there is a good chance that the life out there looks nothing like the aliens we see in pop culture.
“Yes! Maybe not in the way that they’re depicted in movies like this one, but this idea that there is some other sort of life, for sure. Playing a character like [MIB:I‘s future agent] Molly, who is, like, full-on X-Files Mulder’ I want to believe,’ has had me thinking about it a lot more. The universe is so vast, I mean there has to be some sort of life form. I don’t know if they’re sentient, I don’t know if they look the way we depict them in pop culture, but yeah, I’m in.”
It’s a debate the human race is going to have until we have an answer one way or another, but it is interesting to think about. It also sounds like the stars of Men in Black: International have fond memories of the original series. It’s always good when there are people who enjoyed the previous movies working on the new entry into the series.
Summary: The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.
Men in Black: International, directed by F. Gary Gray, stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, and Kumail Nanjiani. It will be released on June 14, 2019.