It’s been more than 20 years since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones first introduced audiences to the Men in Black and the neuralyzer, a.k.a. the little pen-shaped gadget that erases people’s memories after a particularly gooey alien explosion.
Now, the MIB are back for MIB International and in those years, a lot of things have changed: snazzier technology, more representation (“the men and women in Black,” Chris Hemsworth’s MIB agent H says in a purposefully cringe-worthy moment), and of course, jokes at the expense of a few famouses. The new movie dutifully carries on the tradition of MIB movies calling out celeb "aliens" by adding a few 2019-specific people to the list that includes George Lucas, Danny DeVito, Elvis Presley, Martha Stewart, and Lady Gaga.
While these celebs don't appear in the same capacity as stars Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, and Emma Thompson (or Kumail Nanjiani who voices the cute alien sidekick Pawny), they are clearly marked as other worldly. Flashing along in "surveillance footage" at MIB's London HQ are a few folks that'll probably elicit a chuckle or two:
1. Ariana Grande: She's either something extra special for her signature ponytail (dramatic hair is known to hide tiny, dramatic aliens in this movie universe) or her other-worldly voice.
2. Elon Musk: The Tesla inventor clearly has help creating his technological advancements. Perhaps, it's because he's from another planet?
3. JJ Abrams: He joins George Lucas in the list of guys who must really know something about a galaxy far, far away. Does this mean Star Wars is... real in the world of MIB?
4. Donald Glover: Childish Gambino also makes the cut, after Liam Neeson tells H (Hemsworth) and M (Thompson) that “it’s never who you think,” flashing the aliens’ faces across a big screen, Thompson replies with a deadpan, “Actually, that one makes sense” after Glover’s face appears. Perhaps because he's just too talented to be human?
Previous celebrities as high-profile aliens in the past three MIB films were always very of the moment, with the late Michael Jackson (a pop culture reference that rings a tad off these days) and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi showing up in earlier iterations. Abrams, Glover, Musk, and Grande are certainly a fitting time capsule for 2019.
Earlier this year, Thompson and Hemsworth revealed that they actually did get a say in which celebrities they wanted name-dropped in MIB, and Cardi B was a top pick. Hemsworth also couldn’t help nerdily giving a nod to one of the pair’s shared fictional colleagues.
“I’d like to see Korg in the lobby here,” Hemsworth told BET, referring to the rebellion-leading Kronan warrior from Thor: Ragnarok, voiced by director Taika Waititi. “Could you imagine? The movie would do a complete turn in his direction.”
Looks like we might have to wait for a possible MIB 5 for that to happen, but we’re not holding our breath just yet.