open/close all folders
Flashy-thing using without adding new memories
- There are a couple moments where they'll neuralyze someone, and then.... walk off without giving the person a new memory (such as what K does to Laurel near the start of the first film after she meets J in the interrogation room). So what happens to the person who gets neuralyzed, but isn't given a new memory? Do they just think, "What the hell was I doing? How'd I get here?"
- Probably. That happens to humans all the time—you've never walked into a room then gone completely blank on why you were going there in the first place?
- Does that mean that Men in Black have neuralized us several times before?
- Cue Fridge Horror
- There's also the teams that show up after the agents flash them. The first use of the Neuralizer seems pretty short term (preventing someone from pulling out a gun or causing undue panic) so that it's easier for the follow-up crew to do its damage control
- The scene where J and K walk out of the morgue after using it on Laurel seems to confirm it. K tells the clean up crew that she needs a new memory, indicating that the clean up crew might do it when K doesn't.
- Probably. That happens to humans all the time—you've never walked into a room then gone completely blank on why you were going there in the first place?
Why doesn't the Edgar-suit split open?
- I can (sort of) see the Edgar bug stuffing himself inside a metal spaceship that's less than half his size. But how does he keep his skin-suit from splitting apart in a nice gory mess? Worse yet, it's shown to be a loose fit when he stretches his face. The hell?
- The book chalks this up to him folding himself into an appropriate size, and specific mention is made as to how he prepares the skin suit so he doesn't destroy it instantly.
- He's a space bug- Bizarre Alien Biology is definitely in effect.
- Also, skin stretches far more than people think it does. It's loose because it isn't a perfect fit, and our skin is attached to us via various means, his skinsuit isn't.
- A somewhat offcolor pair of examples being someone with extreme weight issues and someone who hasn't aged well. Same amount of skin, but in the first case, the skin has been stretched a lot and in the second case, skin has lost its elasticity.
- In the scene where he tears the disguise off, several dramatic seconds explicitly show the bug unfolding.
- In said scene, it's also apparent that he excretes some kind of slime that might make the skin more resilient or lubricate his body to fold in on itself easier.
- I always assumed that it was meant to be an exaggeration of real insects' seeming ability to squeeze into small spaces. Sort of like how Peter Parker's Spider-Sense is presented as some underlying supernatural reason for how normal spiders always seem to evade a handy swatter, if you will.
Going mute upon shedding the suit
- Why does Edgar stop talking once he's in bug form? We've already seen that he can talk ("Place... projectile weapon... on the ground"), so why is he suddenly mute? Did they think him talking would make him less scary?
- I don't remember him ever talking in bug form, so I was guessing he needs a larynx to make a voice. It doesn't work when you take in consideration the other bugs in the series, though. Maybe there was a change in script but they forgot to update the previous scenes?
- He does when he first crash-lands. We don't see it, but we hear it. And all he took from Edgar was his skin, not his larynx or any other organs.
- When he crash lands and starts talking with Edgar, he sounds hesitant, like he's speaking a language not native to his own. So when they're having the fight at the end of the movie, he's probably not going to speak Human because he consciously has to think about it. (Don't ask how he's much more fluent while wearing the Edgar-Suit.)
- It's some kind of translator he's using at the start. He gets a better grasp of the language later.
- Also, he has a tongue and teeth while in the Edgar suit. It's hard to speak English clearly if all you have is a gullet.
- "Did they think him talking would make him less scary?" Maybe. In the script he actually had lines; he said "Like this?" after pulling his Edgar suit off, and "Stop it!" to J when he started mashing roaches.
- Rick Baker apparently suggested that the Bug should continue to wear Edgar's face in order to speak...
- The novelization actually clarifies both of these things. Originally his translator is, ahem, buggy... he actually says something along the lines of "Drop the gun, dumbass" and the translator renders it into "Place projectile weapon on ground". He spends a few moments jimmying with it once the real Edgar's not bothering him. He can also fold himself partially into another dimension, so it's basically hyperspace. And in the book at the end he does continue to talk, and... honestly it does sort of make him less intimidating. When Jay starts stomping cockroaches, instead of the horrified, angry expression and the slow, furious advance, he keeps shouting "Don't do that!" and it's sort of lame.
- By this point, the bug is really, really pissed off. He's probably in the mood of "fuck talking, just move," and talking to J would serve no real purpose at that point. He's already established he prefers to kill rather than waste much time taunting people (the morgue clerk, the two aliens at the diner, the tow truck guy) so he probably wouldn't bother yelling at J when he can just, you know, eat him.
- Either that, or maybe the native bug tongue is a Starfish Language made of roars and growls.
- Other than Rule of Funny, what logical reason is there for the Twins to keep everyone on a 36-hour day? The planet belongs to the humans, not them. And as it's stated that there's a pretty good chance of having a psychotic episode due to the awkward day/night cycle, it just seems more logical to go by the native species normal pattern. Better safe than sorry, after all.
- It might be for the twin's benefit somehow, but as to why they do this isn't mentioned. In fact, aside from mentioning that they are on 36 hours and that it might make you go crazy they don't really go into it at all.
- The twins probably put forth a proposal that a 36 hour schedule was more efficient for work somehow. Plus it probably works out well for the agents, whose charges would be up to shenanigans at all different hours... a 36 hour work schedule might allow them to have proper agents on call at all the best times.
- Also might be because the aliens that MIB is supposed to watch don't necessarily stick to Earth time. Maybe a 36-hour day is better to work with the aliens they're watching over.
Why burn off the fingerprints?
- It's all well and good that MIB agents have to get their fingertips burned off, but haven't these people ever heard of gloves? Even better, the movie very explicitly states that all trace of the agents' former lives is erased; shouldn't that include fingerprint records?
- More practical than gloves. Gloves can be taken off, damaged or simply slip out (and who knows whether you'll have one around to replace it). Not having fingerprints at all is just... a more surefire way of preventing that, though it raises the question of how agents that are "erased" get them back to return to their normal life. And even if fingerprint records are erased, leaving the same fingerprints around various suspicious locations would definitely ring a bell with someone.
- But even if they leave a million fingerprints, it doesn't matter if they're not on file. They won't lead back to anyone, so at worst the police will simply think they've got an unknown suspect. Hardly worth the effort of burning off their fingerprints.
- The original fingerprints may not be on file, but the "new" ones would be put on file. They'd keep finding them in places, and possibly track the agents through them. Much tidier not to leave any fingerprints at all.
- They can collect all the blank fingerprints they want. The MIB have shown that they can wipe those files with a few keystrokes. They have the capacity and authority to do so, and is shown explicitly when they're wiping Jay's identity.
- So what about eyelashes, skin flakes, and any of the countless other traces that the agents must leave behind? Genetic evidence is every bit as dangerous as fingerprint evidence, and obviously they can't do anything about that. So the question is still, why bother?
- All that stuff is much, much harder to use to track someone than CSI would have you believe. Not to mention harder to find and isolate unless you've got a quarantined crime scene.
- To put it in perspective, 90% of dust is human sheddings (hair, skin, etc). So while, yes, it'd be possible to get something from such things, the time and effort required to do so in an average crime scene would be horrendously costly for the benefit.
- Yeah, this is a case of The CSI Effect in full swing here. the kind of meticulous CSI-style studies are only going to happen at high-profile crime scenes, which are invariably going to have MIB agents there with mind-wiping tech and clean-up teams to eliminate evidence anyway.
- As for getting them back when they leave, I think fingerprints actually grow back naturally if they're burnt off. Fingertips have fairly impressive regenerative abilities, so they probably have to go through the 'burn off your fingertips' thing periodically.
- If i remember from the book, there's something about how they have to get their fingerprints removed yearly as they were burned off and the prints would start to return at about that time (which, as i've burned myself repeatedly.. fingerprints will start to come back if the burn isn't bad enough)
- Redundancy, the way I took it. MIB is pretty hardcore about keeping that outfit anonymous, physically removing prints is likely among the easier things they can do to protect themselves.
- Okay, forget gloves. Surely the MIB have access to some sort of ultra-thin polymer or something that adheres to your skin so you don't have to get your fingertips painfully burned off every so often? Then again, this is veering dangerously close to Wild Mass Guessing territory...
- Occam's Razor, the simplest solution is usually the best. They have a device that burns off your finger prints. No need to worry about gloves getting damaged, lost, lifted from an agent, or being identifiable in and of themselves (if leather). They can wipe prints from databases, and perhaps the machine that burns them off also takes a record of them and scans databases to automatically delete them, so that if the agent misses his yearly burn, the police won't get a lead.
- What a lot of people don't realize is that actually having no fingerprints is worse. Here is a link to a guy who tried that in real life before the days of DNA testing. How did the police catch him? by looking for one of the only guys in the world without fingerprints.
- In that case however they were aware of and searching for said person who had less resources than they. MIB isn't something that's known and they actively use all their technological upper hands to prevent that sort of thing.
- That man also had literally smooth palms. Lots of people lack fingerprints, either through burns, genetic disorder or just day to day wear and tear.
- Also for the most part the mundane authorities wouldn't have any reason to look for them. They'll only investigate a crime scene, and if the MIB are involved, they've likely already erased any evidence of their presence. Nothing to see here, move along.
- What about palmprints?
Alien race omitted
- This one comes up as a result of some stuff that came about in the film's post-production phase. Originally (the novelization backs this up, if memory serves, because novelizations of movies are usually based on early screenplay drafts) there were supposed to be two alien ships looming over the Earth, demanding the galaxy: an Arquillian ship (as seen in the final film) and a Baltian ship. Rosenberg (the little green man) was originally a Baltian. The Baltians and Arquillians had been at war, and were making peace by having Rosenberg deliver the galaxy to the Arquillian ambassador. And then the Bug came along. But anyhoo, the whole bit with the Baltians was omitted, and after some post-production work (namely dubbing the aliens' conversation into alienspeak), Rosenberg became an Arquillian. Thing is, the tall alien ambassador is listed in the end credits as "Arquillian" which means that there should be a tiny green man inside his head, shouldn't there? I know, I know, I should really just relax... a minor but maddening quibble...
- The DVD contains 3 scenes that were cut which dramatically shifted that part of the plot, the studio execs wanted a streamlined plot and the director found he just needed to redub two scenes and while third mostly needed a different CGI shot on the computer screen to remove the whole peace conference plot into a simpler theft and assassination. They pretty much missed that error as the change was very last minute for a big budget blockbuster, apparently some of the main actors themselves had no idea that lot had been changed and were surprised at the final version.
- Also, we only saw the coroner examining Rosenberg. The other guy probably did have an alien in his head but they didn't show it.
- We didn't see her examine the other guy but we know she did examine him. When the Agents arrive she shows Jay the tall man's body and remarks that he has a very weird bone structure. And when she goes to show him Rosenberg's body she makes no mention of weird bones, only missing organs. If Rosenberg and the tall man were both tiny green men in human-sized mechas then they should have pretty much the same innards, shouldn't they?
- Driving different models?
- Perhaps they're two different races that unified themselves via diplomacy to the point that they both consider themselves Arquillians.
- They're both members of species that are part of the Arquillian Empire. Just as the Roman Empire contained Romans, Greeks, Gauls, Jews, Egyptians and so on.
- Or, you know, like America. A nation of immigrants (and some aliens of its own). Could be the Arquillian Empire's also a star system (?) of immigrants.
Why no Website/Deviant Art?
- Where's the DeviantArt fan art? Most of it is of characters dressed up as MIBs, rather than fanart of the franchise proper. Come on, guys!
- If you think about it, it's quite fitting. No fanart for a movie about an organization that leaves no trace of its presence whatsoever.
MiB naming conventions
- I'm sure there is one, so what's the official explanation behind the whole... "your codename is your first initial and there are more than 26 agents" thing?
- Dunno if it helps, but in the series, there's one former member who's known as "Alpha," so maybe they go into other alphabets.
- It's been a while since I saw the movies, but do we know if they actually have more than 26 agents? Also, Zed's name isn't Z, so it is possible they just give the lone letter to the first person with that name and resort to other codenames starting with said letter from then on.
- They probably have a system of letters and numbers in various languages. Zed may not be his name. In many countries, Zed means zero. You can hear it in Stargate Atlantis when McKay sometimes refers to ZPMs (Zero Point Modules) as Zed PMs.
- McKay doesn't say "Zed PM" because it represents Zero, but because the initial is Z.
- Zed is how Brits (and presumably Canadians and so on) pronounce Z, so Zed is sticking to the single letter codename thing (why he's using British english, I have no idea). This just brings us back to the core problem of limited codenames, of course.
- Zed sounds much, much cooler than Zee
- And Zed is the boss, so he can pronounce it however the hell he wants.
- RIP Mr. Torn — Zed's Dead, Baby. Zed's dead.
- It's possible that not all who work at MIB are called agents. The agents, who get code letters, are just a specific set of field operatives, while there's a much larger support staff with a different naming scheme.
- If I recall from the novel that's set between the first and second film, they start using slight variations, probably based off of initials or the first few letters of a name.
- The third movie gives us Agent AA, showing that an agent can have more than one letter.
Weaponized memory loss
- Why don't they use the neuralyzers as weapons? Every skirmish would be over pretty quickly if they went into battle with sunglasses and wiped every hostile's memory.
- It probably works only on humans due to biological differences.
- Or perhaps because, since you have to be looking at the neuralyzer for it to work, using it in a melee would be too inefficient.
- That and eyes.
- "only works on humans" is confirmed in the animated version.
Noisy Cricket trouble
- Why did K give J a deceptively powerful weapon on his first mission? That's just asking for trouble. It seems like nothing but an invocation of the Rule of Funny.
- Caution. Given that most of the people they come across are tougher than humans, making sure your new recruit will survive is probably a good thing. At least until they have the savvy to handle aliens in other fashions.
- Still begs the question of why they didn't demonstrate the power of the Noisy Cricket for Jay. Seriously, how many innocent civilians could he have vaporized if his aim had been off the first time he fired it?
- The MIB aren't terribly good at training new field agents, judging by how they handle J. They don't explain to him that he's not supposed to discharge his weapon in public either. The impression I get is that all the field agents are very old men and they haven't trained any new agents in decades, so they're getting rusty.
- Jay already has training as a policeman and, as seen with the alien couple, it's probable being a MIB agent isn't a lot different than a simple police officer, he just needed experience, not training.
- No, he needed training. The MIB is a very different beast from the NYPD. Jay was being asked to operate under a completely different set of regs and use weapons he was totally unfamiliar with. At the absolute least he should have received many hours of range training until he knew how to competently handle his standard sidearm.
- I always thought that since they assumed he was a police officer, that he would know not to open fire randomly in the middle of a crowd to stop a perp. They were wrong.
- J seemed to be using it as he would a regular pistol. He fired upon a fleeing criminal that he believed was deemed "armed and dangerous." I also thought he was admonished for firing alien tech in view of the public, not for endangering people. He also was still under the normal belief that recoil and power is directly related to size. MIB needs to add training to all their other overly thought out protocols; they have pretty extensive recruitment process and protocols it seems.
- Also, I read somewhere (I forget where) that the Noisy Cricket is the training weapon for new recruits.
- I've always gone with the theory that giving the Noisy Cricket to a new recruit is an initiation rite or hazing.
- Both are right. It's a training weapon for new recruits, but, ratcheting up its power so that it sends the shooter flying is also a prank pulled on those same recruits.
- To be specific, in the West End Games MIB Pen And Paper RPG, it's designed to break Trigger Happy newbies of the habit of pulling guns and shooting things in public. In real life, every time a police officer discharges his weapon outside the range, he has to fill out paperwork defending the use of his sidearm - an incredible hassle meant to discourage reckless shooting. When a MIB fires off a ray gun, all civilians present have to be neuralized, and that's an incredible hassle for the rest of the agency. Hence giving the newbie a gun that feels like getting kicked by a mule every time it's used - no paperwork, but you are going to carry that wrist-snapper until you learn some restraint. We're not running an intergalactic kegger here.
Why did the Arquillian prince die?
- Exactly how did Edgar kill the Arquillian prince? We see his stinger go right through the Arquillian's neck, but that's not his real neck. It's a human-sized power armor for an action figure-sized alien. So how did the sting kill him?
- It looks like it damaged whatever life-support system he had inside his robo-body. Kind of how if you pierced the oxygen tanks on the Space Shuttle, you can kill the astronauts on board without ever touching them directly.
- No that can't be it, its shown in the show that Arquillians can survive on earth without the "suits" and if human atmosphere doesn't kill them, the "suits" don't need to be airtight. Maybe the sting put poison into an air conditioning unit or something.
- Maybe the stinger went in through a vulnerable point on the "neck" and then curved upwards?
- It looks like it damaged whatever life-support system he had inside his robo-body. Kind of how if you pierced the oxygen tanks on the Space Shuttle, you can kill the astronauts on board without ever touching them directly.
Why does K retire?
- Why does K retire from MIB? Unlike the old geezer in the beginning of the movie, he didn't lose his touch, and if the reason was his extremely traumatic experience inside the roach's gullet, why didn't he just erase that particular memory? In fact, the same can be said about all the "hundreds of memories" he wanted to forget. Fair enough, so why doesn't he?
- He does erase those memories. Problem is, neuralizers aren't selective. They wipe out entire blocks of memories. The only way to forget all the horrible things he's seen as an MIB agent is to wipe out his entire experience as an MIB agent.
- Lolwut? They use the neuralizers to erase short scopes of memory all the time! That's what the dials are for - they determine how far in the past will the memory be erased. So, what I meant was neuralizing himself after each traumatic event, including the one with the roach.
- Yes, because an agent regularly erasing large blocks of their own memory—useful memory on how to fight the things he's going to be up against every day—is a really good habit to build up.
- So you're suggesting he wipe out all of his combat experience after every encounter, therefore making it impossible for him to remember what he's learned in combat? Brilliant!
- Record the necessary information beforehand, then playback it. Experiencing those traumatic events second-hand wouldn't be so bad.
- Which makes a better agent: one with PTSD, one who occasionally erases his own memory, or an ex-agent that completely erased his knowledge of the MIB and now works in a post office?
- Also, that was what happened in the sequel. He'd neuralized himself after the whole 'Light of Zarthon' incident and those memories didn't come back after he was de-neuralized until he put together the clues he left. So it makes sense to only neuralize himself once, just in case he needs to be brought back quickly.
- He still pined for his old girl and his old life. He is shown spying on her at one point. Getting eaten was just the tipping point.
- This one's pretty much been done to death but I also think he probably didn't want to get to the point where he retired old and bumbling. He probably wanted to get out while he was a) still alive and b) had some good years left.
- I think the biggest unanswered question is why does he retire on J's second day? couldn't he wait at least a month? there is a ton of stuff he doesn't know!
- There's also the implication that being continuously neuralized can adversely affect your mental health, as J points out it's probably the reason for L's quirkiness.
Firing your own partner?
- Does anyone else find it odd that MIB agents are apparently empowered to fire their partners from the service and then neuralyze them to forget what they know? Both J and K are seen doing so unilaterally and on the spur of the moment, and the only time Zed (their nominal boss) says boo about it is when he razzes J for doing it to too many of his partners in a row. This seems to me to be a disturbingly loose way to handle severance from an organization that prides itself on only allowing in the elite (and which therefore will always be very small in size), and that's not even getting into what could happen if an agent went rogue and just decided to neuralyze his partner every time they stumbled onto his crimes.
- I haven't seen either film in a while, but I don't recall seeing both agents in a pair holding a neuralyzer. Maybe Zed decides which agents actually get to carry the mind-effer based on how experienced they are or how unlikely they are to screw up and/or misuse it. The first agent we see neuralyzed is K's partner, who's barely capable of staying in the game.
- Which, BTW, raises another question. How did they allow such a whiner into their ranks in the first place?
- If you mean J's partner at the start of 2, presumably he was more gung-ho about it when recruited and it was the reality of the job that got him.
- What do you mean "whiner"? The dude was old. I'm sure he was a fine agent in his prime, but that was obviously a long time ago. All that happened was he ran face-first into the realization that he was too old to do his job anymore. That's bound to make anyone a mite depressed.
- Here's a possible explanation: The whole "They're beautiful, aren't they? The stars" thing is a kind of Spy Speak code for "It's time for me to go." It's a protocol thing—you can only dismiss your partner when he or she specifically says this phrase and means it.
- Maintaining the Masquerade of non-awareness of alien life is the most important thing to the MIB. Everything else is secondary, from the lives of MIB operatives to Earth itself.
- K has got to be pretty high-ranking in MiB so it's not too far-fetched that he has the authority to do this, especially in light of his old partner's frailty. J simply doesn't care that much about protocol, but probably avoided too much punishment because K had probably been on his way out for awhile anyway.
Only one witness to the UFO at the baseball game?
- How the heck does nobody but the outfielder notice the alien spaceship flying over Shea Stadium? You'd think, at the very least, some of the other players would have also been looking at the ball and seen the ship behind it.
- The same reason why nobody but a small minority of people noticed a Tyrannosaurus rex walking around San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. In other words, Weirdness Censor.
- The outfielder only seemed to notice the ship when the ball passed right in front of it from his perspective. Maybe the ship has some sort of cloaking field that only allows it to be seen by someone looking directly at it.
- Focus. It's a pretty big game; most of the players and spectators would be totally laser-focused on the game.
Why is J neuralized?
- Why does K neuralize J after meeting him for the first time if he was just going to recruit him the next day?
- The other recruits were probably not neuralized when they were recruited. They were probably chosen because they were the at the top of their respective fields. Edwards, on the other hand, is a different story. He had a close encounter with an extraterrestrial and K took him to Jeebs to identify the weapon the ET was going to use to assassinate the Arquillian prince. K neuralized Edwards after that to erase the memory of aliens, alien weaponry and protect MIB secrets. But he may have decided later that Edwards would make a good replacement and had him tested with the other recruits whereupon he'd have to subject him to a second reveal regarding extraterrestrials.
- It was probably standard procedure. Plus J already having knowledge of aliens would give him an unfair advantage over the other candidates.
- Based on the events of the first movie (granted, they would not have known this at the time if making the first), it may have been that K didn't know when or how J would become MIB or when J would become aware of K as a part of his life so he was making absolutely sure J would remain 'pure' until needed. As for the delay in doing so, well... same reason - K would have been spending a decent chunk of his life raising J (such as it is) even if J didn't know it. Times like this would be a rare opportunity to interact.
- K was planning on trying to recruit J the next day. That is no guarantee that he would succeed, or that J wouldn't, say, run to the nearest news outlet to tell the story of the regenerating alien who sells offworld hardware to the world-at-large. J wasn't an agent of MiB yet, so any knowledge of extraterrestrial activity he possessed still constitutes a security risk.
- A lot of what makes a good MIB agent seems to be the ability to adjust to weird situations. Neuralizing J lets him demonstrate to Zed just how well he handles weird. K almost certainly already planned to recruit J, but it's all part of a test.
Only one branch of MIB?
- Does the US branch of MIB control all the Agents in the world or are there other branches? A London office, for example.
- Don't be silly. London already has Torchwood...
- Well, had.
- K does state that most Earth-based aliens reside in Manhattan.
- Earth is a relatively low tech neutral zone. Not many aliens come to Earth for the purpose of living, and those that do can find a place in the Us (mostly Manhattan, as K stated). Most aliens come to visit or to have a politically neutral area for a deal, both of which can also be done in or near the Manhattan branch. No real need for "the neutral planet" to have more than one in and out area for aliens.
- Looks like someone overheard you.
Not the last suit you'll ever wear?
- So if the MIB suit is the last suit you'll ever wear... why is J wearing some kind of Oriental inspired number with a white polo neck underneath during the final seconds of the first movie? hasn't he just broken one of the main tenets of the entire organization? And why isn't he customizing his outfit in the sequels?
- You seem to be taking the suit line a tad too literally.
- The line is supposed to mean that the MIB suit is the last "uniform" you'll be wearing, not literally "you only get this one suit ever." I doubt that many former MIB agents go on to be lawyers or professional business men after they leave the organization. Of course, this is kind of messed up after K leaves, since as a postal worker he does wear a uniform, even if it's not a suit. But aside from K leaving early and J neuralizing all of his replacement agents, it seems that most agents stay in MIB until they die or simply cannot physically handle the job anymore, like in the case of K's partner before he recruited J. As for why J doesn't have special suits in the later movies, it's never really explained, but I always just kind of figured that at the end of MIB 1, J is still a VERY young agent and is eager to imprint his own style into the job, in much the same way he probably did with the NYPD. By MIB 2 and 3, he's a much more seasoned agent and doesn't need to compensate for his lack of experience with "hip" new styles. Also, it's much easier to remember someone in a unique Asianesque suit and forget someone in a boring black one. J probably realized that the traditional MIB suit wasn't just for simplicity, it was also the smartest thing he could wear so he would never really be noticed.
- Last suit you'll ever wear is hyperbole, a way of driving home that the new agent's life has been changed dramatically.
- J's 'fashionable' suit at the end seems to be a way of saying that J is an innovator type, and as he's trying to find his place in MiB, he stretches the rules to find himself and take mental charge of his new life. His huge confidence and assuredness when he talks, about Rodman. By the next movie he's back to the standard MiB suit because he's matured a bit - he's much more no-nonsense about the mission than proving himself (he's likely beyond the insecure 'don't call me Sport' phase, so also doesn't feel the need to stand out among other Agents with his clothing either.)
- Let's not forget there was no sequel planned, so the stylist outfit J was wearing was basically one last Visual Gag.
Where'd the guns go?
- What happened to K's futuristic handgun and J's Cricket during the final battle against the Bug? Were they stupid enough to leave their sidearms behind? Sure, those laser cannons they keep in the trunk were cool and all but, as they both proved quite conclusively, if you happen to lose them during the battle to save the entire Earth you are left with nothing to attack with except for a few rocks. Your back-up battle strategy shouldn't consist of Hell, if something happens I can always let it swallow me whole...
- They were probably just picked up by the cleaner team that would inevitably arrive.
- K's handgun might not even scratch the bug. The Noisy Cricket could probably do the job, but it might also destroy the Galaxy in the bug's stomach. Since the Galaxy is said to be an absurdly powerful energy source, this could be really bad.
- Not that it says much, but in the sequel K successfully guns down Serlina's One-Winged Angel form with his sidearm. And the Bug was huge enough to safely aim at its head without fear of hitting his belly where the galaxy was.
A long translation process
- What sort of eleven word phrase would take several hours to translate?
- The sort that's buried under tons and tons and tons of subtle wording nuances that can flip the meaning of every word on its head. Look into Chinese sometime. Or Japanese. Or Entish.
- Makes even less sense considering K showed J a universal translator earlier in the film.
- Earth isn't supposed to have that tech. Using it to quickly translate the message would tip the aliens off about it and cause even more problems.
- What makes even less sense is that the MIB is familiar with the Arquillians. They helped hide their crown prince, they know their standards for opening hostilities, etc. Given the obvious, existing relationship, how come they don't just have Arquillian in their computer systems, or have an agent that can speak the language of a known, friendly alien civilization?
Lethal Force on the Firing Range
- I'm surprised (and kinda ashamed) that this didn't raise my flags earlier. Why in the name of Khorne allmerciful would J, a policeman', shoot an 8-year old girl? No, I don't mean "shoot her rather than the monsters". I mean why would he shoot her at all?! Just because she was suspicious? That's... "police brutality" doesn't even begin to cover this! Hell, his only explanation was that she was carrying some books on quantum physics. So freaking what?! She could've been returning those books to the library for her college student brother! I know I'm reading way too deep into a joke, but still, what kind of psychopath J is? Did he feel he would lose his manly credentials, if he didn't shoot something? Or was the task specifically to shoot something? Doesn't seem to be that way.
- At midnight?
- So what? The Lenin's library in Moscow has a night service, I don't see why some others wouldn't. Not that it matters, of course, it was just an example.
- The room is a fancy shooting gallery. The task was to shoot the threats. She was the most threatening thing in the room. The task was not, "Put the gun down and go have a conversation with the cardboard cutout". In a live situation, he probably wouldn't shoot her the second he saw her, but this wasn't a live situation, it was a test of judgment and observational skills.
- Nobody says he should've talked with the cutout. But how was shooting it a good judgement? Acting suspicious doesn't make you an immediate threat.
- That's the joke. Jay only shot her because he got that none of the rest were actually doing anything worth shooting and he might as well shoot the odd one out to explain his reasoning. He just shot her because he knows a recruiting test when he sees one and has no interest in following along with the rest of the boring soldiers.
- I think, in his own way, Jay was trying to illustrate the complete absurdity of the shooting test. Based on this scene, apparently the MIB puts potential recruits in a shooting gallery with absolutely no preparation whatsoever for what they're supposed to be shooting at. Which makes the test completely useless at screening recruits. Of course the other recruits fired wildly at the alien cutouts. They've never seen an alien before. From their perspective these things look like Eldritch Abominations from the deepest pits of Hell and everything about the way they're posed suggests "threat". And of course Jay only fired at Little Tiffany. He was so taken aback by the utterly bizarre alien cutouts that he froze up. I don't believe for a second that Jay actually assessed each target and concluded none of them except Tiffany was a threat. That was just a line of BS he made up on the spot. Putting a bullet through Tiffany's brainpan was just his way of calling attention to that fact.
- Which was the entire point. Part of MIB's job isn't just shooting any alien that shows up on Earth, the same way cops don't shoot anyone that shows up in a city. The test wasn't about marksmanship, despite what the other recruits thought. It was about learning how to assess the situation and when to hold fire - which made the only cop in the group the best-qualified candidate. Of course, Jay has that little problem with authority, so...
- Like the other tests, it's a Secret Test of Character to gauge a prospective agent's ability to think outside the box and accurately assess threats. To which J responded by capping an eight-year-old girl rather than, say, conclude that nothing he was presented with was a threat and hold fire. AND HE PASSES.
- It was about assessing threats, you've got that right; it was about thinking outside the box, high marks again; but you are wrong about one thing: 'eight-year-old girl'. Supplementary information reveals that Tiffany actually IS a threat and eliminating her is the only correct response.
- Let's get something firmly straight about Tiffany. J's reasoning was not "this little girl is carrying advanced books", although that was the thing he focused on the most. It's that this little girl is walking around where she ostensibly doesn't belong (i.e. little white girl in the ghetto surrounded by monsters) carrying books that are way too advanced for her, completely unphased by all the alien life around her. She's at least suspicious.
Who called the exterminator?
- Who called the exterminator to Edgar's farm? According to Beatrice, she was unconscious when "Edgar" disappeared, and considering how much Edgar hates people who kill bugs, it seems unlikely that he called him.
- I consider it likely that the exterminator was called by the real Edgar some time before the movie, and the appointment for the extermination just happened to be just after Bug Edger ate the real Edger. The Bug Edger just killed the guy and took advantage of his truck to get around and bring his ship with him.
- Maybe the bug did. He needed a ride, figured he could have some fun and gleefully kill a known murderer of his species along the way.
- So what, exactly, is the MIB doing with its keep aliens secret from everybody else rule? Is there some sort of plan in place to allow them to safely reveal the presence of aliens to the world? Or are they just going to run around neuralizing people until the end of time?
- Logically speaking, they'll probably reveal things once our technology is advanced enough, and advance it as fast as they can without either drawing attention or causing social upheaval. The reason for waiting for technology is, of course, that we're a neutral zone; when the secret, because people are "dumb, panicky animals" that tend to act before thinking, we WILL ruin that neutral status in short order once we find out we're not alone. So, they're probably intentionally keeping it a secret until our technology is advanced enough to keep us Leeroy Jenkins-ing it the moment the veil is lifted.
- Wouldn't that just mean that everybody would not only be Leeroy Jenkinsing later instead of sooner, but have the technology to REALLY do some damage? Besides, wouldn't everybody be really pissed at the aliens and the MIB for keeping aliens a secret?
- Better than the alternative, which is to say declaring a hostile status towards some evil empire next-door and getting instantly vaporized. If they wait long enough, we'll have the shields (Arcnet is good, but increasingly outdated and specialized, so it can't be relied on) and starfighters to actually survive declaring a cessation of neutrality.
- Would cessation of neutrality really be a good thing, though? Right now, Earth has it pretty good. Sure, there's plenty of threats to the safety of the Earth floating around, but there's no indication that would change if Earth became a sovereign party in galactic politics. If anything, it seems that it would get worse; there doesn't seem to be any united galactic government, and all we ever see of intergalactic politics is war, war, war. Most of the time, threats to the Earth are indirect; the Arkillians are going to destroy the Earth to prevent the Galaxy from falling into the hands of their enemy and powering a war engine that would destroy their civilization. Sure, there's the occasional invasion, like the Boglodites, but there are also other alien civilizations stepping in to lend a hand, that may be less inclined to do so if Earth seemed like a legitimate threat in its own right, rather than everyone's favorite party town. That's not to mention the free technological advancements that Earth receives by simply holding the right to any and all confiscated tech. It's explicitly stated in the first film that a lot of Earth's tech advancements in the last century have been the result of reverse-engineering alien hardware. This isn't hardware that we had to bargain for or make economic deals for, it's all free tech that was confiscated from criminals. All in all, not having to worry about galactic wars and politics and only having to pick up the criminals here and there that enter our jurisdiction while getting free tech upgrades and cultural exposure to everything that's happening, Earth actually has a pretty sweet gig going for it.
- Precisely. But, the thing is, it may not be entirely morally defensible; there are almost certainly horrifically corrupt and evil (by human moral standards) powers that get free reign to vacation in NYC because of the neutrality (as that is, really, what neutrality means). While that doesn't change the equation at all, there are nevertheless more than enough governments on Earth that would end up eliminating neutrality anyway for the sake of not having what we would consider war criminals coming here for fun - to do otherwise with the secret known would be to invite massive public outcry, and the public reactions to some of the migrants from such powers would likely lead to breakdown of neutrality regardless of political intent - lynchings, outspoken protests, etc. Thus, until the benefits of it going public and chances of surviving the inevitable breakdown of neutrality become considerably better, it would be both stupid and suicidal to reveal things, as revelation=cessation of neutrality as almost a certainty.
- So do they have something planned to make humanity more accepting to the existence of aliens when it's inevitably revealed so that it doesn't blow up in their faces? Maybe a way to keep the neutrality after The Reveal?
- Doubtful. Welcome to international politics, Galaxy edition. There are no easy answers, only a careful dance of threats, military showings, trade sanctions, and international treaties. Look at the real world- countries can only stay neutral in the long run if they're of no consequence at all (i.e., effectively third world nations without any interesting resources who haven't managed to offend anybody), if they're strong enough to scare off aggressors, or if angering them would mean a cutoff of vital trade. In this case, they're waiting in the first of those three categories (with the "not offending anybody" being the part necessitating the hiding thing) until we have the military to get into the second category or an economy sufficient to get into the third.
- With regards to the point about war criminals, the MiB do regulate who comes to Earth, what they do, etc. and there does seem to be some parties not invited to the open bar, so to speak. When Agents J and K started their investigation of the Bug in the Edgar Suit, K reported in to Zed, "We have a Bug," and ended his call. He didn't have to say anything beyond "Bug", implying that simply having a Bug on Earth was sufficient enough cause to pursue and apprehend. The suggestion here is that Bugs are not welcome on Earth at any point for any reason. We can speculate all manner of reason as to why, but the why is irrelevant; the important point here is that it demonstrates that as much as Earth is a big neutral party town, the MiB still hold the right to refuse service to anyone.
- Part of the plan may simply be to wait for a time when humanity seems mentally/socially prepared for alien life. That is, when their first reaction isn't "Shoot first, ask questions later." or like J in the first movie, poke everything (potentially causing a lot of unnecessary violence out of ignorance). If nothing else, look at what happened to other species that were overly aggressive (bugs and bogladians) - they got wiped out and MIB kind of has a vested interest in not allowing humanity to be wiped out.
- There's actually an explanation in the first movie for why "Bug" is enough of an explanation and clearance to pursue: They're never "neutral", they literally live to make war and exterminate other species.
The Noisy Cricket
- In the first movie, why exactly did Kay give Jay, an untrained and new recruit, the Noisy Cricket as his sidearm? Despite its diminutive size it's destructive power rivals even the biggest guns used in the movie, and Kay didn't even warn him about it.
- His boss Zed told him to "Give the kid a weapon", and the Noisy Cricket was the least dangerous/destructive weapon available.
- Fridge Brilliance! One of the clues Frank the pug passes along is "When will you humans realize that just because something is small doesn't mean it's not powerful"!
- Whenever aliens are fatally shot, they seem to inevitably explode into a fine blue mist. Is this because of the natural properties of the aliens (unlikely, since all species seem to do this), or some inherent function of the guns used (in order to minimize physical evidence later)?
- I assume it's a consequence of the caliber and/or type of weapons being used; all the guns we see the Men in Black wielding are extremely powerful, with even the Noisy Cricket blowing a hole the size of a truck through a semi with a recoil that hurls J through the air. It's not so much that the weapons are programmed to cause things to explode into a blue mist upon death, it's that the weapons are powerful enough to vaporize any living thing they hit.
- More likely it's due to the fact that MIB weapons are directed energy weapons. When the projectile hits its target, the energy causes the water in the target's tissues to boil, making the target rupture from a steam explosion.
Shooting non-human ships
- In the first movie, when the Arquillians threatened to destroy the Earth if the MIB didn't secure the Galaxy by their arbitrary deadline why didn't the MIB call them back and suggest they just sit tight in orbit and fire on any non-human ship attempting to leave the planet?
- Because that would mean that they would destroy most any ship that left the planet, and since there are aliens abandoning Earth in droves at the time, that would mean a LOT of dead aliens. Also, if the the Bug managed to leave and Arquillians actually managed to destroy it's ship, it would probably destroy the galaxy in the process, and the Arquillians wouldn't want to risk that.
- Actually, K (or Z) mentioned that the Arquillians are prepared to destroy the galaxy, rather than let it fall into bugs' claws. I think the true reason was that Arquillians basically declared war on Earth ("Arquillian war custom: a preemptory shot and one standard galaxy week for a response"). MIB were in no position to demand anything.
- Speaking of the Arquillians, that "warning shot" was about the size of a country...
- I thought it was a subtle gag about the hole in the ozone layer.
The hole in K's speech
- K argues against revealing the existence of aliens to humans, and frankly his speech is a load of bull. He points to people's reactions to not seeing that the Earth was the center of the universe and not realizing the Earth was flat. Ignoring the historical inaccuracies of his comment, he's pointing to realizations that were important parts in the development of human civilization. He can't honestly think learning the Earth revolves around the sun was a bad thing can he? Also, why doesn't he just give the much better reason that is ironically given as a joke, that The World Is Always Doomed and society really wouldn't be able to function if normal people knew that?
- Probably because it's just as full of shit as the first one. The world "is always doomed" by terrestrial forces as well. Natural disasters, epidemics and purely human conflicts have been devastating our race since the dawn of times. And you know what we do about it. We deal with them. More successfully or less, smartly or stupidly, but we do. We make mistakes, but they're our mistakes, and we ultimately grow stronger from them. It might be just me, but I get this really arrogant supremacist vibe from MiB and other works, where "special" people, be it wizards, mutants or aliens (and their stooges), are hiding the truth about the world from "the kine". There's always the same excuse: "There will be panic", like it's some kind of tumbler that switches off civilization once and for all, not a natural stage of coping with shoking news. Meanwhile, the special people get to flaunt their superiority, talk down to people and, usually, enjoy a life outside the boundaries of societal norms and laws, and have free reign to violate people's identity and dignity by tampering with their memories. I can't help but wonder if those wonderful opportunities constitute the chief, if not sole, reason for The Masquerade.
- I've wondered if there were multiple drafts of that speech, because going from "people are panicky" to "various historical discoveries" is pretty jarring. Nonetheless, when you think about it, the current secrecy could have a few advantages. For one, aliens on Earth are less likely to suffer potential pogroms from some fearful humans. Some of them are important dignitaries on their planet (or endangered species), so if they were targeted by hate groups it could provoke an interplanetary incident. For another, the Klaatu defense; they do honestly seem to think that humans would be a danger to themselves and others if they started using alien technology or consorting with certain alien powers.
Fate of Retired MIB Agents
- So the MIB states they remove any record of their agents' former lives when they join. So what happens to them when they retire? The movie shows us their memories of MIB are erased and covers nothing else. Does the MIB really just abandon it's former agents to return to a normal live where as far as the rest of the world is concerned, they don't even exist?
- Given that K went back to his girlfriend, maybe they undo the removal of their former lives when they retire.
- Remember the tabloid article J was skimming? K's return was written up as him waking from a decades-long coma. Presumably other agents who retire are given similar rationales for their disappearance.
- Presumably they give them a reasonably good pension and memories of a long career in whatever they were doing before MIB found them.
- The movie probably exaggerates how thoroughly the agents' back history is "erased". Making a person appear to have died or disappeared under circumstances suggestive of death (e.g. retroactively adding their name to the list of deceased from a plane crash, burned-down hotel, earthquake, etc) would be a lot easier than making it appear they never existed in the first place: you'd have to track down and edit the memories of everybody with whom they'd ever associated with significantly to achieve the latter, but only tamper with a few travel and financial records to do the former.
- Given that K went back to his girlfriend, maybe they undo the removal of their former lives when they retire.
The Bug and the roaches
- I will not presume to understand the psychology of alien bug movie monsters, but the cockroaches J was stomping to rile up the Bug were dead in any case - in a few minutes they would've been incinerated along with the rest of the planet, and the Bug knew that. So, whatever affection it had for its earthly relatives, why would it abandon its escape to save/avenge them when it had already resigned to sentencing them all to death?
- Well, at the restaurant we see some roaches fall out of Edgar's sleeves... maybe he's been trying to save as many of them as possible? Or, depending on how devastating the damage would have been, he might have been counting on all the bugs surviving.
- Also, how did J know it would do so? He had no idea the Bug killed the exterminator or the morgue receptionist for killing bugs, and it seems quite a stretch to just assume it would work even as a desperate move.
- I mean, it's a bug, and it kind of looks like a giant mutated cockroach. Considering he was desperate, it doesn't seem that huge a leap.
- If I recall? Especially in the novel...he killed one by Accident, saw the Bug pause, and realized he had something.
- The Bug didn't really need to give a damn about the roaches. It just had to care that a scumbag human was deliberately squashing roaches as a way to diss it. It's like the kzinti officer from some story I don't recall the title of, that kept a pseudo-primate from his homeworld as a leashed pet because it looked very much like a human.
Come to beautiful Earth
- Okay, so Earth is the WWII Casablanca of the universe, and a lot of important alien dignitaries seek refuge there. But... why Earth? They all have to live in secrecy, and presumably wouldn't have the technology they'd be used to back home. It would be like taking refuge in Amish country for them, right? Isn't there a planet already involved in interstellar politics that would serve just as well for immigrants and refugees?
- Perhaps it's more like going camping or living somewhere rustic. And there may be advantages to living in a planet that's considered neutral territory.
Mikey going ballistic
- When Mikey noticed that the border patrol agent saw him he goes berserk and tries to kill him, why? He tried sneaking through Mexico without knowing spanish and even knocks an MIB agent to the ground during the attack so he dosen't seem that concerned with keeping up The Masquerade (at least not enough to die over)?
- He may have been intending to take the border agent hostage, not kill him outright. Like so many other aliens-in-residence, Mikey apparently heard rumors of the Bug's arrival and the peril to Earth, and was sneaking off to where he'd hidden a means of leaving the planet.
- Why did K choose J purely based on his ability to keep up with and catch an alien perpetrator only to tell him later that his skills meant precisely dick? Either the criteria to become a MIB is just to be able to run fast in which case, why the tests? Or if skills mean dick then anyone could potentially become an agent in which case, why bother with tests again? You might as well recruit all athlete sprinters to join or any talent-less guys with "dick all" skills and simply train them up as K seemed to imply to J. What made J so special in the end?
- The criteria is obviously not "just to be able to run fast." K said that because J was starting to act cocky for his "street smarts," and K wanted to knock him down a peg. K knows that the job, among other things, requires the kind of toughness that it takes to chase down and apprehend a physically-superior alien, and as they're more police than military, J's mindset was more fitting than the various Captain America wannabes that were also tested — he needs to be able to investigate and think through what's going on.
- Perhaps it wasn't speed as much as tenacity. Mi B needs people that don't give up no matter what, they'll keep going even when the world is 5 minutes from blowing up.