YMMV / Men in Black


First film

  • Acceptable Targets: The wife-beating redneck who gets bugified at the start of the first film. Obviously didn't want anyone 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.
  • Alternative 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? The novel sides with the former interpretation, even saying Jay's choice to shoot little Tiffany on the firing range was right.
  • Ear Worm: "Men in Black" by Will Smith is a pretty damn catchy song.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
  • Genius Bonus: The first film included a "practical joke by the Great Attractor". In Real Life, the Great Attractor is the name for a strange gravitational anomaly with an apparent mass equal to tens of thousands of Milky Way galaxies.
  • 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.
    • Laurel's remark, "But don't tell him, he looks like he's already under enough stress.".
  • 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 '90s.
      • 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.
    • The alien baby in the first film bears some resemblance to Kit Fisto.
  • Ho Yay: J constantly referring to K as his partner, which is fine because they are both federal government agents and SpaceCops. Unfortunately for them it was enough to cause them to be 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: 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 himnote . (Of course, when writing Elle, nobody had any idea that Fiorentino would be exceedingly hard to work with, thus necessitating her departure.) It could instead have been easily explained that she wanted to return to the morgue and MIB decided stationing an agent directly at the morgue under a new identity, in order to track potential cases was beneficial. There was no need for her to reappear but it would keep the supposed stakes of enlisting as MIB for life. Still, in the animated series she's still an agent, and her lack of presence in the live-action movies hasn't stopped fanfic writers from doing stories where she returns to MIB and becomes an agent once again.
  • Ugly Cute: The guck-spitting alien squid baby that J helps deliver. He even remarks that it does look kinda cute.
  • Uncanny Valley: Aliens in more questionable human disguises will have this effect.
  • Woolseyism: Edward's line about NYPD meaning he will "kNock Yo Punkass Down" was rather brilliantly rendered in the Danish translation as: "Nu Ydmyger Politimanden Dig" (Now the Policeman Humiliates You).