In an alternate reality, one not too different from our own, the movie-going public almost received something completely unprecedented and wildly bonkers: a crossover between the Jump Street movies of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, and the Men in Black franchise. In our reality, the stars didn’t align and, instead, we’re getting Men In Black: International, a continuation of the buddy-cop alien movies with Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as the new leads.
“I wasn’t so much involved in that first conversation,” franchise producer Walter Parkes mentions of the crossover idea while on the set of International in London. But, he does explain why it didn’t work out.
“I got a phone [call] at the time from the head of the studio who said, ‘Pull over. We have to tell you the greatest idea. What about mashing up the two franchises?’” Parkes recalls. “By the way, at first I thought, ‘Well, yeah, that’s interesting,’ but it was more of a Jump Street movie, honestly, with those guys going to Men In Black.”
He “wasn’t surprised,” frankly, that the script couldn’t “get there.”
“The two franchises have such utterly different tones,” he says. “Jump Street takes very classic cop things and plays it very out there and crazy and broad, and we [in Men In Black] take very strange cop-sized fiction situations and play it very straight, so it was very hard to find a tone that worked — but the theory of it was great.”
Parkes further explains how, “at their heart,” the Men In Black films are buddy-cop movies and the humor comes from playing with the conventions that come with that sub-genre. “The comedy in Men In Black comes from shaking down an informant, but in this case the informant’s a pug alien, but you don’t play the joke. You just let the situation be the joke.”
The next phase of the Men In Black franchise, under the direction of The Fate of the Furious’ F. Gary Gray, now comes as as International jaunt to MIB headquarters in London, where newly probational Agent M (Thompson) is paired with high and mighty Agent H (Hemsworth).
Their “north star” for the script, Parkes notes, was the story of Agent M, who, as a young girl, has an alien encounter involving the Men In Black. She remains un-neuralized and spends the following years tracking down and trying to become one of these mysterious agents.
“If the first three movies were New York City cop movies,” Parkes says, “this should be an international movie.”
Men In Black: International opens in theaters on June 14th.