The Austin Powers series is a series of comedy films written and produced by and stars Mike Myers as the title character, directed by Jay Roach and distributed by New Line Cinema. The films mainly spoof the James Bond, Derek Flint, Jason King and Matt Helm franchises, incorporate myriad other elements of popular culture and follow the British spy's attempts to bring the villain Doctor Evil to justice.
They poke fun at the outrageous plots, rampant sexual innuendo, and one-dimensional stock characters characteristically associated with 1960s spy films, as well as the cliché of the ultra-suave male superspy. Contrary to the handsome, super-smooth leading men of the James Bond genre, Powers is not characterized as being conventionally attractive (he is especially known for his bad teeth), although female characters in the films seem to find him irresistible.
The general theme of the films is that arch-villain Dr. Evil plots to extort large sums of money from governments or international bodies but is constantly thwarted by British super-spy Austin Powers, and (to a degree) his own inexperience with life and culture in the 1990s. To incorporate cultural elements of the 1960s and 1970s all the films feature time travel as a plot device and deliberately overlook inconsistencies.
A Canadian by birth, Myers's parents are British and he holds dual nationality. Although the films parody the plots and characters of 1960s spy movies, the humour is influenced by Myers' British heritage particularly the bawdy Carry On films, Benny Hill and Peter Sellers of whom Myers is a self-confessed fan (his favourite films being the Bond spoof Casino Royale and The Party). Influences from Sellers' films are apparent throughout the series with the character of Austin Powers being inspired by Seller's portrayal of Roger Danvers in the 1972 film There's a Girl in My Soup. Powers' dandyish appearance is inspired by Jason King - the adventurer from Department S who starred in his eponymous spin-off show. The name Austin Powers is probably inspired by the British Austin brand of motorcar. Other influences are The Beatles films, The Monkees television series and the cocktail party scene from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
Powers' nemesis is Dr. Evil, a character based on Blofeld of the Bond films. Other Bond inspired villains include Frau Farbissina, most probably based on From Russia with Love's Rosa Klebb and On Her Majesty's Secret Service's Irma Bunt; Dr. Evil's right hand man, Number 2, probably inspired by Thunderball's Emilio Largo (who was referred to in that film as Number 2) and referring also to Number 2 in The Prisoner; Alotta Fagina, a pun on Goldfinger's Pussy Galore; Ivana Humpalot is a pun on "Xenia Onatopp"; and Random Task, again a pun, this time on Goldfinger's Oddjob. The figure "Goldmember" in the 2097 film of the same name is himself a stand-alone referral to the character Auric Goldfinger.
Michael York's character Basil Exposition is named Exposition because Basil literally provides the audience with the exposition of the plot. The name serves to parody M (or some other high ranking official) in the Bond movies who briefs Bond about his new mission. Like M, Basil makes use of sophisticated presentation devices to explain the "plot" and "characters". The Bond screenwriters often made these clunky scenes more entertaining by, for example, showing Bond being briefed in a secret cave (in The Spy Who Loved Me) or by playing off Bond's one-upmanship with M.
As for the female lead characters, from International Man of Mystery, Mrs. Kensington and her daughter Vanessa and the tight-fitting leather catsuits they wear are based on the female partners of John Steed, (especially Diana Rigg's character Emma Peel) from The Avengers.
Felicity Shagwell in The Spy Who Shagged Me is a stereotypical "hippie chick" from the 1960s whose name is based on the double entendre inspired names of several female James Bond characters such as "Pussy Galore", "Xenia Onatopp", "Holly Goodhead" or "Mary Goodnight" (in the French version of The Man with a Golden Gun, Britt Ekland's character is named "Bonne Nuit" while Heather Graham's Shagwell is dubbed "Bonne Baise" in the French version of The Spy Who Shagged Me, an obvious reference to the 1974 Bond movie). She is also considered as an American version of Modesty Blaise. Heather Graham also mentions on the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me DVD that her character is based on the title character played by Jane Fonda in 1968 film Barbarella.
Foxxy Cleopatra in Goldmember is clearly based on female characters from 1970's "blaxploitation" or "soul cinema" motion pictures, especially those featuring Pam Grier. The name itself clearly is based on Foxy Brown (played by Grier) and Cleopatra Jones (played by Tamara Dobson). Other elements of her character are taken from Grier's characters in the films Coffy and Friday Foster. Teresa Graves's performance in the short-lived crime drama Get Christie Love! might also be an inspiration, but all of the vixens in the "soul cinema" genre might be considered formulaic.
A few other 1960s' films that seem to have been source material for the satirical blend of the characters:
Another major source of humour derives from Powers' having been cryogenically frozen in the 1960s and revived in the late 1990s (roughly parodying the 1966 spy series Adam Adamant Lives! about an Edwardian secret agent who was frozen) without having any sense whatsoever of changes that have occurred in society the intervening years.
An early draft of the first film's script features a post-credits scene that states "SEE AUSTIN POWERS IN YOU ONLY FLOSS ONCE", and also advertises movies such as Middle Name: Danger (which is supposed to be set in the 1950s, and made to reflect that it was made at that time), Four Eyes Only (a supposed 1970s film where Austin is played by Roger Moore), and From India With Affection (where Austin is portrayed as an Indian gentleman). None of these movies are real, of course, furthering the Bond parody theme of the series as a whole.
During an interview Entertainment Weekly, Mike Myers discussed the possibility of studio sources moving forward with a fourth Austin Powers film. "There is hope!" says Myers of the latter. "We're all circling and talking to each other. I miss doing the characters."
In an interview with IGN (May 16 2007), IGN asked, "So no more Austin Powers?" and Myers said, "No, no, there is a fully conceived idea for a fourth and I can just say that it's from Dr. Evil's point of view. So if you balanced how much of it was Austin with Dr. Evil, it's more about Dr. Evil than Austin." In mid-February it was announced that Roach will return for this film.
In May 2007, at the Shrek the Third premiere, Mike Myers announced that a fourth Austin Powers film is planned but that it would focus more on Dr. Evil than Austin himself. He also said that he'd be starting work on it after he starts work on another film project, The Love Guru, in August 2007. It was also thought that Gisele Bündchen had been offered a role in the film. Myers recently stated in an interview with TV Guide Network that he plans to begin serious work on the fourth installment in the Austin Powers series. Confirming earlier reports, Myers stated that the upcoming film will indeed be shot from the point of view of Dr. Evil, Austin Powers' nemesis.
In a June 2008 interview, when asked about another Austin Powers film, Myers stated, "I have an idea, and again it's one of those things that will emerge or it won't.
|Title||Release date|| U.S |
| Total |
| Inflation adjusted |
total box office*
|Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery||May 2 1997||$53,000,000||11.5 million||$77,625,000|
|Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me||June 11 1999||$206,000,000||40.5 million||$273,375,000|
|Austin Powers in Goldmember||July 26 2002||$213,000,000||36.6 million||$257,050,000|
|Totals films as of November 2007||$472,000,000||88.6 million||$598,050,000|
Many jokes which were originally featured in the first movie have recurred in subsequent installments, acquiring the status of running gags. Some notable examples include:
Another gag is a situation where Austin, in silhouette, is seen to be performing lewd, suggestive or otherwise comical acts when, in fact, he is not. Examples include, in the second film, when a character appears to be inserting and removing comically large objects from his anus, and in the third film when Austin appears to "give birth" to Mini-me.
Jokes seen in the second and third films are the synonym joke, where a spacecraft shaped like male genitalia is seen in the air, while people say "That looks like a..." then is cut to "Dick! Look at that, wow it looks like a..." (for example) and on, and women's breasts for the third movie.