Is there a neuralizer to make us forget how old we’re feeling? July of 2022 is going to mark 25 years since the release of the surprise blockbuster film, “Men in Black.” It’s hard to believe its been two-and-a-half decades since the movie hit theaters but also hard to remember a world without the film, given how ingrained into pop-culture its become.
So in the lead-up to its anniversary, let’s take a quick look at the franchise and what to expect this July. (Like the 4K release you can pre-order now!)
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that “Men in Black” was not an original intellectual property brought to the big screen. It began life as a comic book by Lowell Cunningham entitled “The Men in Black.” As insignificant as the word “the” might seem, it signifies that these men are a specific group. Indeed, the subject of the comic was inspired by UFO and government conspiracy stories dating back over decades. Supposedly, black suited men would appear at locations where strange circumstances had occurred in an effort to control and suppress the narrative around the event.
The comic series published in 1990 didn’t revolve around just aliens, nor were the agents so altruistic in their motives, as opposed to the movie counterparts. You’d be hard-pressed to find the comics these days. The original publisher, Aircel Comics, was later acquired by Malibu Comics, which was then acquired by Marvel. Given the “MiB” films are owned by Sony, it doesn’t seem like Marvel’s in a rush to give the comics a reprint.
Speaking of the movie- its popularity in the summer of 1997 and beyond can’t be understated. The film grossed nearly $600 million on a $90 million budget, and scored an Academy Award for best make-up. It would also spawn a franchise that would include two direct film sequels, a spin-off movie, an animated television series that lasted four seasons, and of course, toys, video games, hit music singles, etc..
As for the people who worked on the film, it was a career booster all-around. For co-lead Tommy Lee Jones, it kept the veteran actor in the mainstream, and helped viewers and critics wash the taste of “Volcano” and “Batman Forever“ out of their mouths. For the film’s other lead, Will Smith, it was his third blockbuster in a row, following “Bad Boys” and “Independence Day.” One could argue it also did quite a bit to insulate Smith against the fallout that would happen from 1999’s flop, “Wild Wild West.”
The aforementioned film reteamed Smith with “Men in Black” director Barry Sonnenfeld, whose film career has mostly revolved around “MiB” ever since. Outside the sequels, his work has mostly been relegated to well-received television projects. His non “MiB” films- “Big Trouble,” “RV,” and “Nine Lives“- were all box-office disappointments, or outright bombs. As of this writing, Sonnenfeld hasn’t directed a film since 2016.
The influence of “Men in Black” can still be felt in how so many of its quotes, references, and themes are still well-known to this day, nearly 25 years later. The idea of government conspiracies and operatives is in some ways, sadly more present than ever. The same can also be said of Agent K’s monologue about how, “A person in smart. People are dumb, panicky, stupid, and you know it.” Maybe you still known someone who breaks out the phrase, “I make this look good.”
We at Nerdbot look forward to bringing you more “Men In Black” content as we approach the anniversary in July.
Until then, prepare yourself by pre-ordering “Men in Black” 4K release so you can see Vincent D’Onofrio‘s Edgar suit falling apart in the highest definition possible and invite your friends over for an intergalactic kegger.