The “Men in Black” franchise may get a woke makeover in the future should it persist beyond the latest installment, “Men in Black: International,” which stars actress Tessa Thompson (“Creed”) and actor Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”).
Speaking with reporters at the New York premiere of the latest film, Tessa Thompson said the franchise’s masculine title will suffice for now, but it may get an update in the future to something more inclusive.
“I pitched some ideas like ‘People in Black,’ but that would be ‘PiB,’ which sounds like a sandwich,” Thompson said. “I pitched ‘Humans in Black,’ which would be ‘HiB,’ which sounds like something you don’t want to get.”
“I think we can change the name at some point,” she continued. “I hope we can get to the space where it’s not noteworthy when women topline these films, and I think a film like this helps us get there.”
In the same interview, Tessa Thompson also praised the film’s co-star, Emma Thompson, for being a solid guide on gender representation in major film franchises.
“She said something great, like, ‘I’ve had the conversation, it takes time.’ I think what she’s speaking to is the fact that sometimes change happens quicker than we have language to describe it,” Tessa Thompson told reporters.
Neither Tommy Lee Jones nor Will Smith will be present for this installment in the “Men in Black” franchise, which has not produced a single critical hit since the series launched in 1997. Unfortunately, it does not look like “Men in Black: International” will break that trend, given that it currently holds a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics roundly trashing the film as unfunny, unexciting, and ultimately pointless.
“Of course, Thompson should star in as many big Hollywood movies as it takes to rejuvenate Hollywood’s star system and ensure more women anchor the biggest franchises in play, but ‘Men in Black’ hasn’t been in play for years,” opined Eric Kohn of Indiewire.
“International is better than Men in Black II and worse than Men in Black III, and they’re all bad, so erase this sentence from your memory,” wrote Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly.
“It’s time to wave the neuralyzer in the face of every executive involved and murmur softly: forget about this franchise,” said Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian.
Considering that the movie has broken several woke barriers by including a black woman in the title role, the film must truly be that awful for the critics to blast it so mercilessly. Not all the reviews were negative, however. Some critics felt the new installment recaptured some of the original film’s forgotten magic.
“Gone is the social commentary, and in its place is globetrotting sci-fi super spy adventure, empty but entertaining, and carried almost exclusively on the multimillion-dollar charms of its stars,” said William Bibbiani of TheWrap.
“Thompson does here what Tommy Lee Jones did so well in the first ‘Men in Black.’ By not overtly giving a rip about the demands or dictates of the franchise machinery clanking all around her, she lightens the load and keeps everything moving efficiently,” said Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.
Current box office projections have “Men in Black: International” grossing $40 million over the weekend.