Men in Black (franchise)

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Men in Black
Men in Black.png
Created by Lowell Cunningham
Original work The Men in Black
Print publications
Comics The Men in Black
Films and television
Television series
Video game(s)

Men in Black is an American comic science fiction franchise of comic books and other media that focuses on the eponymous and fictional non-governmental organization which monitors and regulates paranormal and alien activity on Earth while preventing civilians from finding out about it. It is a creation of Lowell Cunningham, the creator of the Men in Black comics about myths surrounding UFOs, and with the first release being The Men in Black #1 (January 1991). The most notable agents within the organization are Zed, Jay, and Kay. Since the release of the comic books, they have been adapted into other media including a series of three films, an animated television series, and video games.


The original The Men in Black[1] comic books were published in 1991 and 1992. The Men in Black are a secret organization that monitors and suppresses paranormal activity on Earth (including aliens, demons and mutants), while keeping the populace ignorant of its happenings.

Film series[edit]

The series was adapted into a film in 1997, titled Men in Black, starring Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K and Will Smith as Agent J, with Barry Sonnenfeld as director. The film went on to become a commercial success, grossing US$587 million worldwide on a $90 million budget[2] and earning a 91% rating from review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.[3] A sequel, Men in Black II, was released in 2002 which saw both Jones and Smith reprising their roles. The film was a box office success, earning $441 million worldwide,.[4] Despite its success, the film was less critically successful than its predecessor and received average reviews from critics with a score of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes.[5] A third installment, Men in Black 3 was released ten years after the second film on May 25, 2012. It was also the first film in the series to be released in 3D. The film saw Smith and Jones reprise their roles, with Josh Brolin and Jemaine Clement joining the cast. It scored a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although Men in Black 3 is concluded the series, talks have been made about the future of the series. Sonnenfeld claimed that Men in Black 3 is the conclusion of the MIB series, though leaving it open for the idea of a rebooted film series. Barry Sonnenfeld, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith have expressed interest in a possible Men in Black 4. A crossover with the Jump Street franchise has also been discussed by Sony but without Jones and Smith.[6][7][8][9]

On September 24, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that series producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald stated the films would be rebooted as a trilogy without the involvement of Will Smith.[10]

Television series[edit]

An animated television series, Men in Black: The Series,[11] aired from 1997 to 2001. The show was based on the films, taking place after the events of the first film. There are a few changes, such as Agent K apparently not having his memory erased.

Video games[edit]

The 1997 Men in Black game was released for PC and PlayStation, this game was published by SouthPeak Games and developed by Gigawatt Studios, then in 2002 game Men in Black II: Alien Escape[12] was partially based on the second film. A video game published by Activision entitled MIB: Alien Crisis was released in May 2012, around the time when the third movie was released.[13]

The Men in Black Organization[edit]

The Men in Black as shown in the movies are a secret organization devoted to policing and monitoring extraterrestrial activity on Earth. The Men in Black, founded in the U.S. in the mid-1950s, began as a small and poorly funded government organization devoted to making contact with extraterrestrial life known as the Baltians. They were initially seen as a joke, but did make contact on March 2, 1961, outside New York City.

It was decided to make Earth an apolitical zone for aliens without a planet, and the organization broke its government ties to become the Men in Black, which became the force to conceal and police the aliens that came to Earth, no longer answerable to the government and therefore not obligated to answer any questions or respond to outside demands. The founding members were the agents present at the landing, plus an amateur astronomer and a teenager who got lost going to see his girlfriend. This last became Agent K, regarded as the agency's best agent, and one of the agents became his partner Dee. The MIB has continued since then, with Zed as its senior agent, to protect the normal citizens of Earth from alien threats and police extraterrestrial immigrants, with notable member including Bee, Agent J, and Elle.

MIB agents sever all ties with their former lives and have all traces of their previous identity erased. Their previous identities may be restored upon retirement, at which time they are neuralyzed and their memories of MIB erased. The agency possesses a "deneuralizer" to restore retired agents' memories if the situation requires it. All agents dress in black suits with Rayban sunglasses, specifically chosen to avoid creating an impression that would leave any lasting or distinctive impact on anyone who sees them, their fingerprints and other unique identifying features being removed, and have access to a wide array of alien technologies for their missions.

No longer receiving federal funding from the government, the MiB are supported by the patents they hold on various confiscated alien innovations, including liposuction and velcro. Their standard operating day is based on Centaurian time, which lasts 37 hours, 16 of which an agent must spend on duty. Their main base is located at 504 Battery Drive in New York City.

The Men in Black have bases in other locations, including one in the western United States (Zone 16), one mobile undersea base, and a Los Angeles division (dubbed "The Agency"). The three other founding members became Agent T, H and Q. In the animated series, an agent known as Alpha was said to be the first chief of the MIB; after he went rogue, Zed became the chief. With the release of the films Men in Black II and Men in Black 3, most if not all elements of the Men in Black animated series have been verified as non canon.


Will Smith, who played Agent J in the films, released two rap singles based on the films: "Men in Black"[14] (from Men in Black) and "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)"[15] (from Men in Black II).

Men In Black: The Roleplaying Game was published by West End Games in 1997.

The theme park ride Men in Black: Alien Attack[16] at the Universal Studios Florida theme park is based on the film Men in Black, as is the parody film Men in White.[17]

In August 2015, Air New Zealand released a Men in Black themed safety video featuring members of the All Blacks, Rip Torn (reprising his role as Zed), and Frank the Pug.[18][19]


  1. ^ Grand Comic Database (2012). "The Men in Black". Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Men in Black (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  3. ^ "Men in Black". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  4. ^ "Men In Black II". Retrieved February 3, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Men in Black II (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Newsbeat - Men In Black's Will Smith 'doesn't want to be sequel guy'". BBC. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  7. ^ "Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones on 'MIB4' possibility – The Marquee Blog - Blogs". Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  8. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (April 20, 2012). "Barry Sonnenfeld Talks ‘Men in Black 3′ Ending & Reboot Potential". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ Alexander, Julia (March 4, 2016). "Report: 23 Jump Street will be a crossover with Men in Black". Polygon. 
  10. ^ Trumbore, Dave (September 24, 2015). "‘Men in Black’ to Be Rebooted as a Trilogy without Will Smith". Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  11. ^ Internet Movie Database (2012). "Men in Black: The Series (TV Series 1997–2001)". Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ MobyGames (2012). "Men in Black II: Alien Escape for GameCube (2002)". Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  13. ^ Haas, Pete (2011-10-13). ""Men In Black" Video Game Arriving In 2012". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  14. ^ "Will Smith - Men In Black". 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Black Suits Nod Ya Head, Australian Single by Will Smith". 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Men in Black Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida". 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  17. ^ Internet Movie Database (2012). "Men in White (TV 1998)". Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Air NZ teams up with All Blacks for new safety video". August 13, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Men In Black Safety Defenders". Air New Zealand. August 12, 2015.