Men in Blackis a 1997 science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld , starring Tommy Lee Jones , Will Smith and Vincent D'Onofrio . The film was based on theMen in Blackcomic book series by Lowell Cunningham , originally published by Marvel Comics . The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker . The film was released on July 2, 1997 by Columbia Pictures and grossed over $587 million worldwide against a $90 million budget. It was followed by a 2002 sequel,Men in Black II, an animated series titledMen in Black: The Seriesas well as a second sequel that will be released in 2012,Men in Black III.
Agent K ( Tommy Lee Jones ) is a member of the Men in Black (MiB), a secret agency without ties to any government , whose goal is to maintain Earth as a "neutral zone" for extraterrestrial aliens, whom they disguise as humans around New York City. The agency maintains its secrecy by using a "neuralyzer" to wipe the memories of those that encounter either them or the aliens, and also the memories of former agents when they retire. Operating from a large underground base at a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority ventilation station, they fund themselves by obtaining patents on alien technologies released for consumer consumption.
K's former partner, D, has just retired, but K identifies New York City detective James Edwards III ( Will Smith ) as a potential replacement, due to his agility to follow a disguised alien. After putting Edwards through several tests, K offers him the chance to join the MIB, which Edwards accepts. Edwards' past identity is erased, and he becomes Agent J , assigned to K by the agency director, Zed ( Rip Torn ). K helps to orient J to the workings of the MIB; during this, they learn that numerous aliens refugees are trying to find a way off of Earth. MIB is contacted by an Arquillian fleet near Earth's orbit; the fleet warns that a "Bug," a member of a giant cockroach-like alien species that are currently at war with another alien race, has crashed down to Earth and is seeking an object known as the Galaxy that would turn the tide in favor of the Bugs. To prevent this, they are willing to destroy the Earth unless the MIB can secure the Galaxy before their deadline within a day.
K and J find the Bug has taken the human skin of a farmer, Edgar ( Vincent D'Onofrio ), as its disguise, raped Edgars wife and killed two Arquillians it believed to have possession of the Galaxy. The two bodies, along with a pet cat that refuses to leave its owner, are taken to a city morgue, where Dr. Laurel Weaver ( Linda Fiorentino ) discovers one of the Arquillians, Rosenberg, is barely alive; struggling with English, it mutters that "The Galaxy is on Orion's belt" to her before it expires. K and J arrive to help remove the alien bodies and wipe Laurel's mind, but not after learning of this message. On route back to headquarters, they realize that Orion refers not to the constellation, but to Rosenberg's cat, and the belt referring to its collar. Racing back to the morgue, they find Edgar there, having realized the same thing. It steals the Galaxy, a small charm, and kidnaps Laurel, getting away on foot while the MIB secure its spacecraft to prevent it from leaving the planet.
As the Arquillian deadline looms, the MIB attempt to determine how Edgar will leave the planet. Laurel recognizes that the observation towers at Flushing Meadows are disguised spacecraft. J and K race there, finding Edgar attempting to climb into the structures. Their arrival distracts the Bug but it is able to enter the craft and start takeoff. K and J fire on the ship, forcing it to crash back to Earth. As the two face off against Edgar, it removes the disguise, revealing its true form, devours their guns and knocks them away, preparing to board the second ship. K goads the Bug to devour him which it does; J provokes it closer to him by crushing some cockroaches from a nearby dumpster. Before the Bug can eat J though, K has found his gun while inside the Bug and shoots it from inside, splitting the alien in half. K is revealed to be safe and J acquires the Galaxy from within the Bug's stomach, and the news is relayed to the Arquillian fleet.
As MIB cleans up the situation, and K apparently prepares to neuralyze Laurel, he admits that he was not training J as a partner but as his replacement, as he is ready to retire from the agency. J acknowledges this, and neuralyzes him. In the epilogue, Laurel is shown to have become J's new partner Agent L, while K (now Kevin Brown) has returned to civilian life.