YMMV: Men In Black

From the films:

  • Acceptable Targets: The wife-beating redneck who gets bugified at the start of the first film. Obviously didn't want any worrying about what happens to someone who gets eaten by a space cockroach.
  • Adaptation Displacement: It was originally an indie comic book. One that didn't focus exclusively on aliens, either. Originally, the MiB's job was to snuff anything too weird for the American public. The first issue was all about a New Mexico death cult, for example.
    • Additionally, MIB was not nearly as benevolent in the comics. Instead of having a neuralyzer, agents would outright murder a witness to cover-up or complete a mission, as well as executing and torturing innocent aliens. The organization also had an ulterior agenda that involved manipulating Earth as opposed to simply protecting it.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: The tests Jay participated in to qualify for MIB. Were Zed and Kay giving the candidates a Secret Test of Character that Jay passed by thinking differently and deviating from what they expected, or were they straight tests and Jay passed due to his impressive physical showing against the alien earlier in the film that Kay was impressed by?
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: At least among voropheliacs, many of whom know the scene from II of Serleena swallowing a mugger whole, resulting in a sloshing Balloon Belly, shot for shot despite never having seen the rest of the movie.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Zed's gravity-defying bicycle kick in the second film. Not only is it not explained how he can do this, but it's also pointless (he's gets KOed immediately after).
  • Complete Monster: Boris the Animal in Men in Black 3 is by far the most murderous and sadistic villain to appear in the movies. He is introduced being freed from prison by his girlfriend, whom he leaves to die when she is blown out into space, as well as another prisoner whom he promised to take with him. He travels back in time to eliminate K as personal revenge for destroying his arm when he was captured, causing a present day invasion by his race of Planet Looting Boglodites to consume everyone on Earth. He kills a number of targets in the past, only refrains from killing his past self because he would be erased from time, and at the end murders J's father out of spite for being thwarted by K.
  • Ear Worm: Fittingly enough, the lounge themes Elfman composed for the Worms' bachelor pad.
  • Evil Is Sexy: The form Serleena takes on as soon as she arrives on Earth? Lara Flynn Boyle in a Victoria's Secret catalog. The first part stays on throughout the film.
  • Fetish Fuel: Serleena's introductory scene in II where she swallows a mugger whole is, not surprisingly, staggeringly popular amongst voropheliacs.
  • Foe Yay: Sarleena and Zed. At first it was implied that Zed was being boastful about it, but it turned out she did have a thing for him later on. Not that it stopped him from trying to fight her.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment/Hilarious in Hindsight: The induction speech is creepier now that Will Smith is starting to be taken in by the Church of Happyology.
    • Any movie set in New York before 2001 is sure to feature the World Trade Center in skyline shots.
    • In the first movie, it was revealed that Elvis had not actually died, but was an alien who "went home." In the second movie, Michael Jackson had a cameo as an alien. Since then, Michael Jackson died in a manner strikingly similar to Elvis's death. (Or did he just go home?)
  • Genius Bonus: The first film included a "practical joke by the Great Attractor" — Great Attractor being the name for a strange gravitational anomaly with an apparent mass equal to tens of thousands of Milky Way galaxies.
    • Agent W is undercover as Andy Warhol. He begs to be reassigned and K says he'll see what he can do. We never find out if he was ever let go, but Andy Warhol didn't die until 1987, 18 years later.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: This exchange, from Men in Black:
    J: Did you ever flashy-thing me?
    K: No.
    J: I ain't playing with you, K. Did you ever flashy-thing me?
    K: No.
    • Though it could have referring to the fact that J had been memory wiped earlier in the movie, we later find out that yes, K did wipe J's memory when he was little after his father was killed in Men in Black 3.
    • Not to mention the entire dynamic between K and J in the previous two movies has to be re-imagined thanks to the revelation in 3 that K feels extreme guilt over getting J's father killed.
    • This line also becomes much harsher:
    K: I've just gone down the gullet of an interstellar cockroach. That's one of a hundred memories I don't want.
  • Heartwarming In Hindsight: The reason why K so quickly recruits J into the MIB as well as acting like a surrogate father makes more sense when it's revealed that K pretty much does consider himself J's surrogate father to make up for accidentally getting J's real father killed.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Will Smith was originally slated to play Neo in the Matrix trilogy. In that movie, he would have fought Agent Smith, a villain who greatly resembles an MIB agent. Similarly, J poking fun at another MIB candidate by calling him 'Captain America' means something different after Will was briefly linked to the role. Not to mention Tommy Lee Jones being in the film.
    • Speaking of Captain America, six years after this movie, Marvel Comics character Isaiah Bradley, an African-American who went by that alias, was introduced.
    • The first film (released in 1997) includes a scene where K talks about a "fascinating little gadget" confiscated from aliens that's "going to replace CDs soon". To anyone watching the movie after 2001, he sounds like a time traveler describing the iPod to someone in The Nineties.
      • For added irony, K also offhandedly remarks that "I'll have to buy The White Album again". In the early years of iTunes, the store's failure to carry music by The Beatles was one of the biggest complaints against it.
      • The device itself was a Sony MiniDisc player, one of the company's many failed attempts to get past the CD era.
    • In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it line from the first film, K is about to say "I guess you weren't even alive in 1968" before the Bug almost eats him. The third film shows he clearly knew this isn't the case.
    • In the first film, J is very worried about the effects of multiple neuralyzations. In the second film, he neuralyzes a group of New Yorkers in the subway twice in the same scene.
    • Smith's "Men in Black" tie-in song is based on a sample from Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots." Ironic choice for a film centered around Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Lenny Vinito(The Bowling-Ball Head Alien) went on to play the human among the aliens on ABC's The Neighbors.
    • Other-world O testing J for who knows what with a slap in the face, then realizing "dammit it's not the tick". Which actor from which show spent a couple of scenes in the previous movie before being retired?
    • The alien baby in the first film bears some resemblance to Kit Fisto.
  • Ho Yay: J constantly referring to K as his partner. Enough to cause Mistaken for Gay at one point.
    • He also mentions in one occasion that K is all he has in the future.
    • By the third film they're practically bickering like an old married couple.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The Bug Alien's name is NOT "Edgar". Edgar is the name of the farmer the Bug Alien kills and disguises himself as in the first movie. The animated series seems to forget this. Even his action figure is called Edgar. In the first movie, J calls it "the bug in the Edgar suit". Though they probably just call him that to differentiate him from his identical brothers in the animated series, like Edwin.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Averted but lampshaded. After they have Laura, the Light of Zartha, leave the planet and destroyed her pursuer, K tells J to leave and head back to headquarters. J then points out that a great deal of people had witnessed what had happened with the implied possibility of having to a long night of neuralyzing all of New York before they can go back to HQ. K then puts on his sunglasses and non-verbally tells J to put on his sunglasses, and then activates a giant neuralyzer located within the Statue of Liberty's torch.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Wearing shades, followed by the use of The Neuralyzer, are a must in any MIB parody.
    • A common phrase to compare a new trend with an out-dated one:
    *pointing at old trend* Old and busted.
    *pointing at himself (new trend)* New hotness.
    • You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good.
  • Moe: Griffin from Men in Black 3.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Jeebs, Frank the Pug and the Worms in the first movie (though they show up briefly in three different scenes). Positive response led to them all returning for the animated series and the sequel.
    • Andy Warhol a.k.a. Agent W steals the show in the third movie.
  • Sequelitis: Men in Black II is widely viewed as a disappointment, though it was a box-office hit.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Men in Black 3 is much, much better received than Men in Black II, though most feel the first one is still the best.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • In MIBł, we never really get to see Boris kicking ass in his original alien form.
      • Boris is fairly underused in the movie in general.
    • Agent Elle, played by Linda Fiorentino, never came back in the sequels. Her absence is explained by J claiming she wanted to go back to work at the morgue, and thus was neuralyzed by him. (Of course, when writing Elle, nobody had any idea that Fiorentino would be exceedingly hard to work with, thus necessitating her departure.) Still,that hasn't stopped fanfic writers from doing stories where she returns to MIB and becomes an agent once again.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • In the sequel, J takes a neuralyzed K under his wing to try and stop a threat only K knew how to deal with, and the rest of MiB is compromised from the inside. Hotshot rookie J is now the jaded veteran, and K is the over-his-head smartass! ... for about thirty minutes.
    • Word of God says he didn't want Will Smith to play the straight man after seeing how badly it went in Wild Wild West.
      • On top of that, Smith has since demonstrated that he is more than capable of playing the straight man. Of course, those projects received considerably better critical praise than Wild Wild West did.
  • Ugly Cute: The guck-spitting squidling that J delivers.
    • The little Alien Lunch creature that K confiscates from the Chinese restaurant in the third film.
  • Uncanny Valley: Aliens in more questionable human disguises will have this effect. The third movie in particular is loaded with these.

From the Animated Series:

  • Accidental Innuendo: In "The Alpha Syndrome":
    Alpha: Let's you and me take the ultimate thrill-ride...
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The episode "the Neuralizer Syndrome", where K is accidentally neuralyzed, becomes a lot more unsettling after 9/11, due to the references to the Twin Towers (and one part of the episode being to avoid having an airship ram into the Twin Towers). It's also a major reason why the episode never reaired after 9/11 in the U.S. Here is the episode.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Alpha, especially in season four when he helps the Ixions plan an invasion of Earth.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Agent U, suck-up extraordinaire.
    • Many fans feel this way about the Worms, mainly because they are often very rude never got punished for their actions. In the Grand Finale, they even used the Declaration of Independence to clean up spilled coffee.