Valkyrie and Thor, together again, to bring the MIB back to life? Somebody get my fainting couch, I’ve got the vapors.
Tessa Thompson is everywhere right now, and I am there for it. She’s got an excellent biopic about jewel thief Doris Payne in the works. She’s in Sorry To Bother You, which hits theaters in July. She just crushed it in Alex Garland’s Annihilation. She’ll be back in Creed II and in the next season of HBO’s Westworld. And now, The Hollywood Reporter has announced she’ll be bringing the Men In Black franchise back to life. Just like our own Sheryl Oh recommended in February. Oh, and Chris Hemsworth is in it.
If you had been asked yesterday about a Men In Black reboot, would you have been into it? “Nah” or maybe a “whatever, sure.” Approximately three seconds after reading this news, your brain transitioned straight from “Oh yeah, I remember that flick” to that gif of Thor screaming YESSSS. Hell to the YESSSS. Sorry, but hot diggity, are you not excited?
Hemsworth’s gonna be her sidekick. How could he not? The announcement doesn’t quite cover that dynamic. If anything, it hints at the reboot being more of an ensemble film. But, let’s be honest. We all saw Thor: Ragnarok. Thompson’s charisma owned every scene they shared.
Besides, Hemsworth excels at the bumbling sidekick. Look at how good he was in the Ghostbusters reboot. More of this, please.
Thompson’s got charisma, yeah. And, she’s a master at translating that to the screen. But, she’s also got major acting chops. Some of her first film appearances, like in Mississippi Damned and For Colored Girls, both earned her recognition and gave us all a hint at her skill.
For all that, the ability to translate those chops to tentpole productions with major VFX budgets is probably one of the most under-appreciated skills in the business. Thompson is so god damn good in Thor: Ragnarok. She kicks ass and brings a character to life that you know you can’t wait to see again in Avengers: Infinity War. When our own Matthew Monagle reviewed the film, he said: “[Thompson’s] character is swaggering arrogance and brashness in equal amounts, and the screen rather literally lights up whenever she appears.” And, like. Yup.
So, aside from founding the Queen Tessa Thompson For All Things Appreciation Society, how does this help the Men In Black reboot?
First of all, you’re excited about it again, aren’t you? That’s what happens when you grab some star power with proven chemistry for your upcoming project. Back when Sony and Amblin were trying to reinvent the franchise as a tie-in to the 21 Jump Street film series, they pulled a similar move. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were going to be the new MIB. Chemistry. It’s important.
But, the core identity of the franchise is also important. The Jump Street reboot is a semi-serious lampooning. Which is great. Those movies are fucking fun. But, the Men In Black franchise had a bit more earnestness. The goal was to give you alien adventures on earth. Ultimately, this difference may be why the production houses went a different direction.
The MIB franchise lost its way. Then it faded away. Nothing ever exceeded the quality of the first film. In a story with galactic consequences, the simple human chemistry between K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith) allows the original to stand up to rewatches today. Oh. And, the fucking phenomenal performance from Vincent D’Onofrio as Edward the Bug.
The scene on the park bench where K breaks down the differences between a person and people is an all-timer. On the other hand, the clever trials they put J through, the way the show them, and Smith’s charisma are all equally essential.
Besides, the Marvel connection is pretty strong. Iron Man scribes Matt Holloway and Art Marcum are on board. Back in 2017 when these plans were set in motion, the producer Walter F. Parkes described the script saying, “Art and Matt have written a spin-off that somehow is true to the core of the MIB world and yet expands the franchise to a fresh new place.” The chemistry between Thompson and Hemsworth is exactly the sort of thing to bring that script to life.
I can’t wait to see Thompson strut in a role that could easily be tailormade for her particular skill-set. And Hemsworth.
The movie will premiere in June of 2019. In the meantime, kick it to this dope Will Smith video.