Exclusive: Men In Black 5 With Will Smith In Development

Men in Black 5 is in the works to star Will Smith.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

Men in Black 5 is currently being developed to star Will Smith, which would make it his return to the franchise after a ten-year absence. According to our trusted and proven sources, Columbia Pictures is looking into restarting the series after several years in hibernation, and a Men in Black 5 with a returning Will Smith is presumably a corrective to the last installment. This may be another sign that the public rehabilitation of Will Smith has begun in earnest and at least studios are willing to give him another chance.

Men in Black 5 would presumably return Will Smith to the role of Agent J, who he first portrayed in the original 1997 Men in Black film alongside Tommy Lee Jones. He last played the role in Men in Black 3 in 2012, in which Tommy Lee Jones briefly appeared and then was replaced (via some time travel plot points) by Josh Brolin. Along with Bad Boys, the Men in Black franchise is one of the most profitable and enduring projects in Will Smith’s career, so it would make sense for both him and the star to try to revive it. 

Will Smith Tommy Lee Jones Men in Black

On the other hand, Men in Black 5 will have to reckon with the public fallout surrounding Will Smith’s notorious slapping of comedian Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Award after taking offense to a joke at his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s expense. In the days and months that followed, Will Smith’s long-beloved public image essentially collapsed, with canceled projects and expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences soon following. It was the kind of public event that few celebrities could survive with their careers intact, but then again, pretty much no celebrity is as popular or beloved by as many demographics as Will Smith. 

Even that Men in Black 5 could potentially star Will Smith is a sign that the actor may be finding his footing once again. It is telling that he is considering signing back onto a franchise he had presumably left behind, which seems like a tactic of seeking out the safest possible bet. Considering the persistent fandom for the Men in Black series, it may be a solid decision for both the studio and the star. 

It is also notable that Will Smith’s new film Emancipation has already been earmarked as a potential Academy Award frontrunner. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua (of Training Day fame) and stars Will Smith as an escaped slave who joined the Union Army in the Civil War, inspired by the true story of a man named Gordon. If there is even the potential that Will Smith could be up for awards so soon after the scandal, Men in Black 5 seems ready to go.

Of course, there is then the question of whether Men in Black 5 starring Will Smith would also co-star Tommy Lee Jones. The chemistry between Smith and Jones is generally considered to be one of the key elements of the franchise’s success, which accounts for the comparative disappointments of Men in Black 3 and Men in Black: International. We will just have to see whether Tommy Lee Jones can also be wooed back to the series.