Men in Black is a 1997 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. Loosely adapted from The Men in Black comic book series created by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers, the film stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as two agents of a secret organization called the Men in Black, who supervise extraterrestrial lifeforms who live on Earth and hide their existence from ordinary humans. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker and visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic.
The film was released on July 2, 1997, by Columbia Pictures, and grossed over $589.3 million worldwide against a $90 million budget, becoming the year's third highest-grossing film, with an estimated 54,616,700 tickets sold in the US. It received worldwide acclaim, with critics highly praising its witty, sophisticated humor, Jones and Smith's performances, and Danny Elfman's musical score. The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, and Best Makeup, winning the latter award. The film spawned two sequels, Men in Black II (2002) and Men in Black 3 (2012), as well as an animated series. A reboot of the film series has been discussed and is in development. The reboot is set for a release in 2019.
After a government agency makes contact with aliens in 1961, alien refugees begin living in secret on Earth, mostly disguised as humans in the New York metropolitan area. A secret agency known as the Men in Black (MIB) polices these aliens, protects Earth from intergalactic threats and uses memory-erasing neuralyzers to keep alien activity a secret. Agents have their former identities erased, and retired agents are neuralyzed and given new identities. After an operation to arrest an alien criminal near the United States/Mexican border by Agents K and D, D decides that he is too old for his job. K neuralyzes him and begins looking for a new partner.
New York Police Department officer James Darrell Edwards III pursues a supernaturally fast and agile suspect into the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, but is unable to stop him from leaping off the roof to his death. K interviews Edwards about his encounter, then neuralyzes him and leaves him a business card with an address. The next day, Edwards and several other candidates visit the address and undergo a series of tests, for which he finds unusual solutions. While the others are neuralyzed, K explains the history of MIB to Edwards and offers him a position within the agency. After much thought, Edwards accepts and gives up his civilian identity to become Agent J.
In upstate New York, an alien illegally crash-lands on Earth and kills a farmer named Edgar to use his skin as a disguise. The alien goes into a Manhattan diner in search of something and kills two aliens disguised as humans eating lunch. After learning about Edgar's death in a tabloid magazine, J and K investigate the crash site and conclude that Edgar's skin was taken by a "bug", a species of aggressive cockroach-like aliens. They visit a morgue to examine the bodies the bug killed and find a dying Arquillian alien within one, who tells them, "To prevent war, the galaxy is on Orion's belt." K fears that the death of this alien, who used the name Rosenberg and was a member of the Arquillian royal family, may start a war.
After finding that the bug has ransacked Rosenberg's jewelry shop without taking anything of value, J and K question Frank the Pug, an alien informant disguised as a dog. Frank explains that the missing galaxy is a massive energy source housed in a small jewel, and the bug wants to destroy the Arquillians with it. He also reveals that the galaxy is on Earth. J deduces that it is hanging on the collar of Rosenberg's cat Orion, which refuses to leave the body at the morgue. J and K arrive just as the bug takes the galaxy and kidnaps the coroner, Laurel Weaver. An Arquillian battleship fires a warning shot in the Arctic and threatens to destroy Earth unless the galaxy is returned within one hour.
The bug arrives at the observation towers of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows, which disguise two flying saucers from the 1961 landing, where Laurel escapes its clutches. It escapes on one saucer, but J and K shoot it down and the ship crashes into the Unisphere. The bug sheds Edgar's skin and swallows both agents' guns, and K provokes it into swallowing him as well. The bug tries to escape on the other ship, but J slows it down by taunting it and crushing cockroaches, angering it. K blows the bug apart from the inside, having found his gun inside its stomach. J and K recover the galaxy, and Laurel destroys the remains of the bug with J's gun before it can ambush them. K tells J that he has been training J as a replacement rather than a partner and has J neuralyze him so he can retire from MIB.
Some time later, J reads about K's return to civilian life at a newsstand before he and Laurel (now MIB Agent L, his new partner) continue on to their next mission. After an extensive zoom out shot, it is revealed that the Milky Way itself exists within a marble (much like the galaxy), and is being used by a pair of colossal extra-terrestrial beings in a game of marbles.