The Top Ten Men in Black Aliens
The original Men in Black is a science fiction comedy classic. Men in Black II was not. Ten years later, the franchise was a bit back to form with Men in Black 3. Sony has since decided to reboot the franchise, so in 2019, we will get Men in Black International. Gone are director Barry Sonnenfeld, as well as actors Will Smith, and Tommy Lee Jones. In are F. Gary Gray, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Liam Neeson. It remains to be seen if the new Men in Black class can capture the cinematic magic of the original. And it was magical back in 1997. After the enormous success of Will Smith in Independence Day, Men in Black effectively solidified his superstardom. The film was simply a delight. Full of great effects, silly gags, and just fun. Before we get the new film with a huge legacy to live up to let’s have a bit of fun and look back at the top ten aliens from the Men in Black franchise.
It is quite simple. In the first Men in Black film, Frank the Pug is an alien informant on the street. Agent K goes to him to find out what The Galaxy is on Orion’s Belt means. When Frank does not give up the information, Agent K violently shakes and manhandles him. It is one of the most slapstick, hilarious scenes in all of the franchise. It was a short, concise, perfect scene. Too bad Men in Black II decided to make Frank an agent and completely suck the humor right out of his character. Way too much of a good thing.
There are only really two alien beings that are at all clever or fun in Men in Black II. However, Jeff, the enormous worm in the subway is pretty cool. When we first meet him, Patrick Warburton’s Agent T is toying with him. Jeff goes berserk and attacks a subway in a wonderful action sequence. Later on, Jeff arrives once more at the perfect time. It is a bit of a deus ex machina, but it is still a hoot.
The Locker Aliens
The other fun alien race in Men in Black II is the society that lives in locker C18 (same locker as in Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty). As the newly de-neuralyzed Agent K is trying to piece together his past, it leads him to the locker. Inside is a bunch of tiny, furry beings that have built an entire society worshipping Agent K. His watch gives them light. A business card shows them the way. It is quite absurd. But when Agent J offers up HIS watch to replace the one that Agent K is taking, their immediate worship of him is pretty funny.
Mikey is the first alien we meet in the Men in Black universe. It is such a wonderful cold open. A handful of border agents have pulled over a truck full of migrant workers. While conducting their investigation, Agents K and D quickly arrive and take over. While conducting THEIR investigation, they find an odd Latino that doesn’t understand a word of Spanish. He is soon revealed to be the bulbous alien named Mikey. The interaction with Mikey and Agent K is so matter-of-fact that it truly sets the tone for the movie. When the border agent catches a glimpse of the alien and he freaks out, Mikey’s roar sets the early standard of how great the special effects will be as well.
Whereby Mikey is where the audience is introduced to the alien world in Men in Black, Will Smith is introduced to them through the Cephalapoid. Officer James Darrell Edwards III is chasing down a perp when we first meet him. Through the streets, over walls, off bridges, and through the Guggenheim museum. Edwards somehow keeps up with this seemingly superhuman criminal. Once he corners the being on a roof, he is told his world is going to end, and then the Cephalapoid blinks with lizard-like, vertical lids. As Edwards tries to contemplate what he has just been through, the creature leaps to his death. His agility and perseverance are what puts Officer Edwards on the Men in Black’s radar.
Griffin is quite a unique alien in the Men in Black franchise and is memorable because Michael Stuhlbarg is such an extraordinary actor. Griffin is the 1969 alien keeper of the Arcnet. Not only that but also has a rare, quantum brain that allows him to see all possible futures and outcomes. This gimmick provides a lot of hijinks in a movie FULL of space-time continuum hijinks. However, Stuhlbarg does it all with such a fun, childlike innocence, that is is always a lot of fun. It also puts a perfect stamp on the end of the film. Agent J has reconciled with Agent K, and Griffin exclaims that it is is his new favorite moment in human history. Awwwww.
Gentle Rosenberg, the Archillian Prince
All three Men in Black movies have their MacGuffins. Men in Black II has the Light of Zartha. Men in Black 3 has the Arcnet. However, it all started with the Archillian galaxy in the original film. Gentle Rosenberg is a jeweler, and when having a meeting with a fellow Archillian, he exudes a harsh, alien voice while ordering pirogies. He is quickly dispatched by Edgar in an attempt to obtain the galaxy. In an astonishing effect, Agent J and Laurel discover a way to open up his face. It reveals a tiny alien being piloting a human-sized craft. It is here that Agent J hears the Galaxy is on Orion’s Belt and sets the final showdown in motion. That Archillian ship is just so cool.
Boris the Animal
Taking a page from Vincent D’Onofrio’s Edgar, Jemaine Clement is a superb villain in Men in Black 3. He plays Boris the Animal, a Boglodite who escapes a maximum security alien prison on the moon. In 1969, Agent K had shot off Boris’s arm and deployed the Arcnet around Earth. It prevented Boris and the Boglodites from conquering Earth and caused the Boglodites extinction. It is Boris’s plan to travel back in time and prevent that from ever happening. But, like D’Onofrio, Boris is just not-human enough to be both creepy and hilarious. The scenes where Clement is trying to laugh, smile, or otherwise be human, is absolutely perfect. Actually, Boris is far more menacing and nightmarish than Edgar. But Clement’s performance gives him that perfectly humorous flair that fits him right into the tone of the Men in Black universe.
Tony Shalhoub is truly one of the greatest character actors we have. In the Men in Black universe, he plays Jack Jeebs. On his surface, he is a lowlife fencer. Before Agent J is recruited by the MIB, Agent K takes him to Jeebs to identify the weapon the Cephalapoid was carrying. When Jeebs does not cooperate, Agent K blows his head off. Being a cop, Officer Edwards pulls his gun on Agent K. Then, Jeebs’s head slowly grows back in an astonishing, and hysterical special effect. The gimmick is used in Men in Black II as well. When K wake up after using Jeebs’s illegal de-neuralyzer, he shoots him in the head.
What Vincent D’Onofrio does as the original Men in Black’s villain is nothing short of extraordinary. Under the Oscar-winning makeup of Rick Baker, D’Onofrio pulls off one of the greatest physical performances in decades. Edgar is a farmer whose truck has been destroyed by a downed spaceship. The bug inside takes Edgar, kills him, and wears his skin as a body suit. What follows, throughout the film, is D’Onofrio moving along like he doesn’t quite fit into his own body. Not only that, but the skin is rotting and deteriorating. Every second D’Onofrio is on screen is creepy and hilarious. That moment he pulls back his face to stretch his skin better is one of the most iconic in the franchise.