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New Men in Black: International photos, plot details unveiled

Here come the men (and women) in black. 

Ahead of the film's theatrical release this summer, Entertainment Weekly treated the world to a batch of brand-new photos from Men in Black: International, along with juicy details regarding the sequel-slash-spin-off-slash-soft-reboot film's story and some inside information the cast and crew. 

The first of the photos, which comprise EW's latest cover story, features Chris Hemsworth's Agent H and Tessa Thompson's Agent M donning sleek black suits and matching sunglasses, riding on a motorcycle through a market. Another shows the two young agents standing in a desert, with M holding something in her hands as H looks on in confusion. Behind the pair is what appears to be their motorcycle, which has crashed into the sand and apparently broken down into bits.

It being the Men in Black: International-focused edition of EW magazine, the cover also displays Hemsworth and Thompson — both seen wearing their game faces, coordinating black ties, and their hands clasped together in a power stance.  

Before now, we actually knew quite a bit about Men in Black: International. The film's first trailer revealed that H (a formidable force in the Men in Black organization) and M (a scrappy and headstrong lady bent on proving herself a valuable and irreplaceable asset to the MiB given that she found them and not the other way around) would partner up and locate a mole amongst their ranks. But this MiB cover story has explained that there's more to the plot than meets the eye. H and M's mission changes course when "an emissary from a powerful alien government is killed on H's watch," and the two must identify the murderer while also tracking down the mole "whose existence has become a mortal threat to the agency's core mission of protecting Earth from 'the scum of the universe.'"

It's a tall order for anyone in the Men in Black, but there are hardly two better people than H and M (whose real name we've learned is Molly) to do the job. As Walter F. Parkes dished to EW, Men in Black head Agent O (Emma Thompson, who reprises her role from past franchise entries) "sees Molly's potential and sends her to London, where there's suspicion that the agency may have been compromised from within. There she's teamed with Chris, the charming and legendary Agent H, [who is] known as one of the greatest to ever wear the suit but who's fallen on some hard times."

Parkes also teased that the "scum of the universe" that H and M will fight against might include some familiar faces. "Don't be surprised if you see the Worm Aliens make a brief appearance," he noted. Fans should also expect to see brand-new creatures, like the "alien sidekick" Pawny, voiced by The Big Sick and Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani. "He's the last survivor of an alien race that had been hiding out on Earth disguised as a chess set, and he has some major self-esteem issues," Parkes said of Nanjiani's character.

At this point in time, it doesn't sound like Men in Black: International will feature any cameos from franchise icons Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent J and Agent K — but that shouldn't put anyone off, particularly since the upcoming film breathes new life into the series with new leads, new settings, and new adventures. 

Director F. Gary Gray (who also helmed The Fate of the Furious and Straight Outta Compton) explained that H and M aren't direct answers or replacements for Smith and Jones' characters, but rather additions to the Men in Black squad. 

"We went into the project knowing the deep affection we and the fans have for Will and Tommy. We're not replacing them, simply adding to their team," he said. Hemsworth agreed, noting that the film is  a sort of reinvention, an opening up of the original franchise that aesthetically is a lot different." 

Together, H and M will galavant across various different international locations — like "Istanbul, Italy, [and] London," Hemsworth stated, not just New York — and may even travel through time, as International makes a slight adjustment to the series' standing canon by exploring the organization's beginnings. Where in the 1997 Men in Black movie, Agents J and K monitored extraterrestrial activity said to have started on Earth in the mid-1950s, Men in Black: International takes things even further back, suggesting that the organization began as early as 100 years ago from the present day. This means our two new agents in black might visit the past, hopping through the decades using powerful technology. 

Production designer Charles Wood discussed this in his chat with EW: "Whereas the original look of Men in Black was sort of set in the 1960s, we're actually taking it back in time and saying that International exists in many cities around the world, and maybe even started a century ago." 

Known for their roles as Thor and Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hemsworth and Thompson are no strangers to stunt-work and intense action sequences. But even these two Marvel vets had a slight learning curve to overcome when shooting Men in Black: International — particularly Hemsworth, who couldn't quite shake certain muscle memories he developed while starring as the Asgardian god of thunder. 

Said stunt coordinator and second-unit director Wade Eastwood of collaborating with Hemsworth and Thompson, "I've seen the crossover from the Marvel world. Occasionally Chris might reach his arm out and expect a hammer to fly in, but that's about it. He's been drifting cars on this and doing all sorts of things that are completely different than anything he's done before."

Hemsworth opened up to EW about the differences between the Marvel world and the MiB universe, saying with a few laughs, "Thor's stunts are wildly complicated, but it feels like an atomic bomb goes off with each of those [hammer] hits. Everything is sort of magnified to a level that is so nonhuman. Whereas this, we have to keep grounding it. There's always a part of it where I'm like, 'Can I do a flip or just sort of leap from this building to that one?' and they're like, 'Nah, humans don't do that sort of thing.' So they have to rein me in occasionally."

As for Thompson, who called herself a "superfan of the franchise" and a "lover of science fiction, no matter the scope," she was drawn to Men in Black: International for its subversive nature and for the fact that it places a black woman at the forefront. 

"I mean, the start of the first movie talks about immigration, and Will [Smith] has these really searing jokes about race," she said. "I think you do have the chance inside of all this escapism to say something, and make a movie that has heart and that has satire and that holds up a mirror to our stuff. I think that's possible, without preaching."

The new Men in Black had a unique impact on Hemsworth as well. The actor revealed that it made him ponder the existence of aliens in our own universe: "I think it's naive to think there's nothing else out there — that we're alone in the universe — on a purely scientific level. But even more so it's just kind of a boring idea to think that it's just us, you know? And for the survival of our species, of course, dear God … I hope somebody's coming to rescue us from ourselves."

With a new duo leading the way, thwarting the nefarious efforts of the London-based MiB bureau boss High T (Liam Neeson) and trying to keep the planet safe from dangers both alien and human alike, Men in Black: International is bound to be a wonderful entry in the expanding Men in Black series. 

The film is set for release on June 14.