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Things Only Adults Notice In Men In Black

The sci-fi genre received a hearty scoop of comedic whimsy with the 1997 release of the mega-hit "Men in Black." This movie amplified Will Smith's star power and planted the idea that our entire reality exists inside a gigantic alien's bag of marbles. The "Men in Black" story is centered around a government agency that serves as a sort of intergalactic border patrol. We follow new recruit Jay (Will Smith) as he gets a crash course in wrangling all things extraterrestrial under the tutelage of his mentor, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones). As Jay discovers, humans aren't just one of many intergalactic species in existence — many of our alien neighbors live right here on Earth.

In the years since its debut, "Men in Black" has aged gracefully. Our skin still crawls at the thought of a maniacal alien marching around New York in a fresh human skin suit, and the jokes get just as many laughs out of audiences young and old. Indeed, "Men in Black" is a movie for all ages — but there are still several details within it that fly right over the kids' heads. These are the things only adults will notice while watching "Men in Black."

Jay doesn't actually run down the cephalapoid on foot

The interview process is normally a stressful ordeal. But, luckily for Jay, he unwittingly solidifies his place in the MIB just by putting his athletic abilities on display. When we first meet Jay, he's in the middle of pursuing a perp through the city streets. Unbeknownst to him, the creature he is chasing is what is known as a cephalapoid. They're pretty tough to catch, apparently: Running the alien down is lauded as a major achievement and presented several times as the primary reason for Kay's faith in recruiting Jay. 

But does he really run down a cephalapoid? A kid takes the rundown at face value: He chases the creature, and then he catches him ... sort of. But adults will notice that the crown jewel of Jay's MIB resume is based on a lie. The cephalapoid scrambles away, and, in order to catch up, Jay hops on the back of not just one, but two different cars. He zips up next to his target and shoves him into a wall. Then, Jay loses him again! Cornering the cephalapoid on the rooftop is pure luck, since the alien pretty much corners himself up on that roof. But hey, kudos to Jay for not correcting anyone about the infamous claim.

Kay sasses the Border Patrol

After a peek into the short, tragic life of a dragonfly navigating the interstate, "Men in Black" wastes little time in introducing us to our titular characters. The U.S. Border Patrol has just secured a vehicle crammed with people. Cue the government suits, appearing on the scene with all the swagger of unsanctioned power. Kay takes control of the scene, claiming to be from "INS, division 6." This is a clearly fictitious department, but the MIB patriarch has a level of confidence unmatched by the Border Patrol's resident Dudley Do-Right. Kay nabs his target among the "illegal aliens" and tells everyone else they are free to go. 

As he marches away with his target, Kay utters a sarcastic phrase: "Keep on protecting us from the 'dangerous' aliens.'" Kids cotton on to his caustic tone, but only adults truly grasp what's going on here. Not only is this joke contextually great, as Kay is dealing with literal aliens, it also expresses how he really feels about the Border Patrol — and how some adults in the audience might feel as well. In the context of what Kay knows of the world, what they do is totally insignificant. He knows there are more pressing matters here on planet Earth.

Jay is baited into joining the MIB

Most people are thrust into the hero role when a series of extraordinary circumstances force them to rise to the occasion. Captain Steven Hiller is forced to leave his family to battle the alien threat in "Independence Day." Hancock realizes he needs to face his alcoholism and step into the role of resident Superman when bad guys threaten our way of life in "Hancock." The future Agent J is no different in "Men in Black" ... except he's a wee bit manipulated into joining the MIB in a way only adults will notice.

It has been revealed to Jay that humans are not alone on this planet. While he grapples with this newfound reality, Kay offers him a position in the agency. This job comes at the price of a lifetime of being a ghost — no one will ever know he existed. It's a tough decision to make. As Kay walks away, he offers up one last quip, which twists the newbie's arm viciously: "It's worth it. If you're strong enough." For a man dripping with high-achiever energy like Jay, this is all he needs to hear. If he doesn't join, that would mean he isn't strong enough, and that is entirely unacceptable. Well played, Kay.

The Edgar suit decomposes as the movie plays out

Should an extraterrestrial predator march around town disguised as a human, we like to think we'd be able to pick them out. You'd think the saggy skin and cockroach musk would be a dead giveaway, but like Kay says, "A person is smart. People are dumb." The general population in "Men in Black" are content in the belief that we are alone in the universe. Why would anyone stop to wonder if the quirky farmer with a limp is human?

It's no wonder "Men in Black" won an Oscar for Best Makeup — the Bug (Vincent D'Onofrio) clad in an "Edgar suit" is executed flawlessly. If you last watched this movie as a kid, however, there are quite a few small details about this design you might have missed. When "Edgar" first steps back into the farmhouse in his new human suit, he looks, for the most part, like an Earthling. But by the end of "Men in Black," the skin housing the Bug has begun to noticeably decompose. The process happens gradually as the plot unfolds: In each new scene with "Edgar," the skin suit has grown more decayed. This makes sense, considering it's just skin, but it's easy to miss the intricacies of this icky process with young eyes. Kudos to the makeup artists for perfecting this nauseating transformation.

Edgar views humans the same way we view bugs

Bugs are an annoying part of our existence. An entomologist would disagree, but we're sure we're not alone in our opinion. We know, we know: Insects are a huge part of our planet, and the circle of life would crumble without them. But the little creatures' love of zipping into our ear canals, causing us to lurch backwards and smack our heads into kitchen cabinets is just too irritating to ignore. The Bug, aka "Edgar," takes that relationship and flips it. Human beings are the annoying pests in the eyes of this angry insect.

The Bug makes it very clear how he views humanity, especially when he goes on a rant while confronting a pest control worker in a barn. People are "nothing but undeveloped, unevolved, barely conscious pond scum, totally convinced of their own superiority as they scurry about their short, pointless lives," he grumbles at the unwitting pesticide distributor. Wow, we thought to ourselves in our youth, this guy really hates cockroaches. Those of us blessed with age, however, know who he's actually referring to.

The baseball player

The space bug walking several miles in Edgar's shoes comes extremely close to completing his mission when he finds a spaceship and gets it airborne. Luckily, the MIB have nerves of steel and beefy plasma cannons. Kay and Jay blast the spaceship out of the sky. Miraculously, it lands right in front of them. Good thing too — without that coincidence, we wouldn't have the film's unforgettable teaser trailer. Unfortunately, the MIB don't shoot the UFO down before it catches the eyes of some spectators. 

One of the witnesses is a baseball outfielder shown missing a fly ball as he watches the UFO glide across the skyline. Fast forward to the closing moments of "Men in Black," and supermarket tabloids are slapped across the screen. One of them bears an eye-catching headline: "UFO Made Me Miss Home Run!" An adult can't help but wonder, in light of this, how thousands of fans in the packed stadium (as well as the other players) didn't see the same thing. Oh, well — even if this doesn't make sense, it's still funny to see the poor man get bonked on the dome by a pop fly.

Instructions for the neuralyzer are not very clear

It is clear that the MIB love to neuralyze people. We don't claim to know Agent K on a personal level, but his top three favorite things in life are most likely neuralyzing people, pie, and freshly-cut wood. Heck, the opening moments of "Men in Black" feature Kay neuralyzing his partner. The flashy thing is a device we've all dreamed of possessing, admittedly. Kay finally hands one over to Jay at the conclusion of their adventure, and it's an exciting moment indeed. The power of chronic amnesia is now at Jay's fingertips! Our excitement is tempered when Kay explains the device's instructions, however, and quickly has us re-analyzing every memory wipe in the entire film.

"Days. Months. Years," Kay explains, while pointing at three different dials on the neuralyzer. These are pretty vague instructions for such a powerful item. There has to be a more nuanced approach to this thing than just wiping out the target's last 24 hours ... right? These instructions would mean every person who gets neuralyzed has a full day wiped from their memory. Victims would basically experience a form of teleportation, as far as their minds are concerned, which would be utterly terrifying. We're guessing there's an instruction manual somewhere that Kay hasn't read through in a while, because something doesn't sit right here. Or at least we hope there's an instruction manual ...

The number of space bugs out there is terrifying

There isn't a ton of information offered on what an alien bug's diet consists of, but we get the impression there isn't much "Edgar" won't stuff down his gullet. There are no scenes shown of him, say, rummaging through an outhouse for sustenance (thankfully), but gulping down a full-size human is definitely on the menu. While discussing dietary plans for his interstellar journey, the Bug mentions he has 78 million mouths to feed back home. This doesn't seem like too large a population for an entire race of interplanetary bugs, until you realize he's talking about just his family.

Now, those numbers add up. Here on Earth, there are millions upon millions of bugs for every one human being. The estimated amount of total bugs on Earth is in the quintillions. If 78 million bugs make up just one family on this alien's planet, there must be an astronomical amount of alien bugs crawling around the cosmos. We can certainly see why the Arquillians are so worried about the bugs getting their hands on the galaxy.

Edgar's original spaceship looks way too small for him

How, exactly, does the Bug cram its body into that slim-fit Edgar suit? Sometimes it's best not to know, so maybe we're grateful for our ignorance. But an adult can't help but be puzzled by the adorable little spaceship the Bug carts around. Once we learn how big he is in his true form, it's hard to picture him traversing the universe in such a small vehicle. Seriously, he's so large, he can swallow Kay whole, yet his original spaceship is so dainty, it mostly fits in the back of a truck.

The only reason we can conjure up for the Bug choosing to fly in a compact UFO is that bugs might have a different definition of comfort. Their idea of "cozy" must be a claustrophobic's night terror. There is also the possibility that the alien bug race hasn't perfected interstellar travel just yet, putting concepts of comfort and leisure a long way off. Judging from how the Bug's spaceship lands by slamming itself into the surface, we'd say they have some improvements to make.

Kay's opinion on joining the MIB changes drastically by the movie's end

Kay is very disciplined, but he is not infallible. This is proven by how drastically his opinion on working for the MIB changes over the course of the film. While recruiting Jay, he expresses confidence that joining the MIB is definitely "worth it". As the adventure draws to a close, though, he is singing an entirely different tune.

Kay reveals in the final moments of "Men in Black" that he hasn't been training Jay to be his partner — he's been training him to be his replacement. When recalling his recent journey through an interstellar cockroach's digestive tract, he states, "That's one of a hundred memories that I don't want." Well, that is mighty deceptive of you, Kay, because you used the opposite line of argument to recruit your replacement! An adult simply can't ignore the vast contrast between his sentiments at the movie's end and what he says about his MIB experience at the beginning of the whole ordeal. It just goes to show that no matter how much steadfast poise a person displays, you never know what's bubbling underneath the surface.

What actually kills the Arquillian prince?

The Bug is on Earth for one thing, and one thing only: the galaxy. A tiny universe housed inside the gemstone on a cat's collar, the galaxy is kept by an Arquillian prince on Earth. It's said to be one of the most powerful energy sources in existence. "Edgar" tracks the precious stone to a diner and quickly disposes of the inept guardians of the galaxy by stabbing them in the neck with a giant scorpion tail. That type of injury would normally do the trick, but as it turns out, one of the guards was just a robotic shell for the tiny Arquillian prince chilling in the cranial driver seat. 

Though it takes a while, this blow does eventually kill the little alien. But it just doesn't seem to us grownups like that type of neck injury would have truly been a death sentence. It doesn't appear to have harmed the prince's real body, first off. Moreover, the Arquillian's command center looks to be airtight, and we don't see any IV connections that could be assumed to have poisoned him. Nothing fatal seems to have occurred ... unless, of course, Jay opening up the vessel is what saps the life out of him. Nice going, rookie.