The idea of a crossover between action-sci-fi comedy franchise Men In Black and the surprisingly successful Jump Street movies first seeped its way into the public consciousness last year, when the idea was revealed in the Sony leaks.
At first, it seemed like a joke — an extension of 22 Jump Street's meta credit sequence which hilariously showcased unnecessary future sequels. We saw comedy cop duo Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) in cooking school, in space, and in medical school but as Men In Black? Even Phil Lord and Christopher Miller couldn't think of something that far-fetched.
And yet, here we are. Not only is the crossover movie happening, it even has a title: MIB 23. Catchy, huh? It might result in some Men In Black fans believing they have somehow missed 20 sequels, but it certainly ties the two franchises together nicely.
Now that it's official and not a crazy rumor, the overriding feeling online seems to be a mix of disappointment and bafflement. It's understandable to an extent — 21 Jump Street and its sequel were fresh and vibrant (despite being a remake of a forgotten '80s TV show), while the most recent Men In Black sequels have been limp, lifeless, and quickly forgotten. At first glance it seems a really weird idea, but I think it actually makes sense!
Seriously. It does. Sony is understandably keen to continue the adventures of Jenko and Schmidt while simultaneously breathing new life into Men In Black. MIB 23 is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. No casting has been confirmed yet, but it seems unlikely that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will reprise their iconic roles as Agents Jay and Kay, meaning that it will an opportunity to reboot Men In Black with new agents.
There are a few potential ways they could go with MIB 23 — will Schmidt and Jenko stumble across an alien plot while undercover and team up with the new agents? Or, more intriguingly, will they be recruited to the agency to take over from Kay and Jay?
Personally I would like to see the movie go down the latter route. I remember really enjoying the original Men In Black when it came out and it would be great to see Tatum and Hill battling aliens and getting to grips with a fantastic array of futuristic extraterrestrial technology.
The only fly in the ointment here is that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — who directed the two Jump Street movies as well as Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and The Lego Movie — won't be on hand behind the camera for MIB 23. Instead that job will go to James Bobin. He has the two Muppet movies on his CV, though they aren't really in the same comedic vein as Jump Street or Men In Black. That said, his earlier work on the brilliant Flight Of The Conchords sitcom and his hand in creating characters with Sacha Baron Cohen suggests he has the comedic chops to adequately replace Lord and Miller.
The dynamic duo of Lord and Miller aren't leaving Jump Street completely either. They may well be busy with an as-yet-untitled Han Solo spin-off/prequel, but they will still produce and write the crossover, meaning MIB 23 should continue in the same vein of self-referential humor that made 21 & 22 Jump Street so much fun.
It's easy to be suspicious of the creative decisions from Hollywood studios. They're often too keen to choose the lazy cash grab over a creative original idea, but with MIB 23 Sony appears to have found some middle ground between those two things. Yes, MIB 23 will technically be a combination of crossover, sequel and reboot, but if done right it could be silly, fresh, and fun. And really, what more could we want from a movie?