Men in Black
Men in Black is a 1997 science-fiction-action film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith and Vincent D’Onofrio. The film was based on the Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham, originally published by Aircel Comics. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker. The film was released on July 2, 1997 by Columbia Pictures and grossed over $587 million worldwide against a $90 million budget. It is currently the 49th highest grossing film of all time. It was followed by a 2002 sequel, Men in Black II, and an animated series titled, Men in Black: The Series.
The MIB, a top-secret agency that polices, monitors and directs alien activity on Earth, has established the Earth as an apolitical “neutral zone” for alien refugees (as Agent K explains, like Casablanca with no Nazis). MIB agents have no identity or any public record of existence, and the MIB agency answers to no government. The funding for their agency comes from the patents they own on technology confiscated from aliens, such as velcro, microwave ovens, and liposuction. Any memory of MIB activity upon “mustering out” of the MIB is erased and a new identity is created for the departing agent. Into this strange world is ushered the initially skeptical Det/Sgt James Edwards (Will Smith), an NYPD officer, as he becomes Agent J, one of the newest MIB personnel. Tommy Lee Jones plays K, a senior MIB agent who recruits and guides J as he learns the ropes.
MIB agents wear sunglasses and dark suits, and appear at UFO landing sites, similar to paranormal reports of real-world Men in Black. Since the MIB are a secret organization, no evidence of their existence can be left. Instead of intimidating or threatening witnesses, the MIB use devices known as “Neuralyzers” to wipe witnesses’ memories of what they have seen, and replace the memories with more mundane explanations, such as swamp gas or weather balloons. Neuralyzers are also used on agents who leave the organization for any reason. The MIB’s sunglasses protect them from the effects of the neuralyzer. K and J drive around in a seemingly inconspicuous black car, which J initially identifies as a Ford ‘POS’ (piece of shit), a 1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, which, with the press of a red button on the gear stick transforms into a high-speed rocket-propelled car.
The main plot of the movie revolves around a “Bug” (code word for a member of an alien species that is similar in many ways to a very large cockroach) searching for a miniature galaxy which is also a vast energy source. Upon landing on Earth, the Bug kills a farmer named Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio) and uses his skin as a disguise to aid in the hunt. A member of an alien royal family, masquerading as a diamond merchant, has concealed the galaxy on his cat’s collar. When he is killed by the Bug, his government prepares to destroy the Earth rather than let the galaxy fall into the Bugs’ hands. During their mission, J and K investigate a morgue where they meet Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), a cynical deputy medical examiner. Eventually, the agents kill the Bug (with Laurel’s help) and recover the galaxy. K then has J erase his memory so he can retire, and Laurel joins the MIB and becomes Agent L, J’s new partner.
In the final scene of the film, the camera pulls back into the sky through space past our solar system, past millions of stars, ultimately revealing that our galaxy is contained within a circular container resembling a marble. The container is then picked up by an alien hand which throws it, hitting another ‘marble’ which also contains a galaxy, in what resembles a game of marbles. Both marbles are then picked up by the hand and placed into a bag full of galaxy-containing marbles.