Franchise FOCUS: The Austin Powers series
In 1997, Mike Myers introduced us to his latest comedic creation, Austin Powers, a British spy from the 1960’s that spoofed the likes James Bond, Derek Flint, and other popular spy film hereos. But Myers didn’t stop with portraying just the title character. By the time the series’ third and final film was released, Myers had played four different characters. The films steadily declined in popularity but will always be remembered. Even though it has been almost 13 years since the last film, people still quote some of the iconic lines from the series, showing the longevity of the comedy franchise.
AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY
In 1997, the first film was released and introduced audiences to Austin Powers, the greatest British spy of his time, and his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil, both portrayed by Mike Myers. After failing to capture Dr. Evil before he cryogenically froze himself, Powers voluntarily freezes himself as well so that he can be awakened when Dr. Evil returns. And when he does so in America in 1997 with new plans for world domination, Powers is thawed out as well to help capture the villain.
When he is brought back to, Powers teams up with Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), the daughter of his partner in the 60’s. Powers, being a sexual creature, realizes however that the world has changed and his free-love lifestyle is not going to work. They pose as a married couple in Las Vegas and plot out a way to stop Dr. Evil and his gang of henchmen. But their plans fall through when they are captured. But they are put into an easily escapable situation and survive to fight Dr. Evil and stop his plans once again.
When they confront Dr. Evil, they are separated and Vanessa gets captured. Austin must decide whether to save her or capture Dr. Evil. When he is distracted by Dr. Evil’s right-hand man, Number 2 (Robert Wagner), Dr. Evil escapes and Vanessa frees herself. They escape before the lair explodes and vow to wait for Dr. Evil to return.
Vanessa and Austin get married and they are shown enjoying themselves in a hotel room. They dispatch another henchman named Random Task who attacks them and go back inside for a night of wild sex, which Austin has been waiting for. Then, Austin notices what he thinks is a big star but realizes it is the rocket that Dr. Evil escaped in.
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
With the success of the 1997 film, a sequel was released two years later that continued the adventures of the sexually-crazed British superspy. Picking up where the last film left off, Austin and Vanessa are in their hotel room when Austin soon realizes that Vanessa is a fembot, a robot made to destroy him. After she self-explodes, Austin, now a single man once again, does a celebratory opening dance number as the opening credits roll. The, it is off to the British Intelligence headquarters when NATO officials inform thsm of Dr. Evil’s return.
Back at Dr. Evil’s secret lair in Seattle, he is presented with a clone of himself, but the clone is one-eighth his size. He names the clone Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) and unveils his latest plan for world domination. He has invented a time machine and goes back in time to 1969 and enlists the help of Fat Bastard (Myers) to steal Austin’s mojo, the source of his sexual appeal. When Austin realizes this, he is also sent back in time to retrieve his mojo and try to stop Dr. Evil once again.
Once he arrives in 1969, he teams up with CIA agent Felicity Shagwell, played by Heather Graham. Together, they create a plan to stop the evil villain once and for all. After fighting off one of Dr. Evil’s henchman, Austin and Felicity go after Fat Bastard to get Austin’s mojo back. Felicity plants a homing device on him but that fails. However, they do track down where Dr. Evil’s secret lair is and go after him.
Upon arriving on the island, they are apprehended and have to overcome a trap, which they easily do. Meanwhile, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me leave for the moon to setup a giant laser that they plan to use to blow up Washington, D.C. Felicity and Austin follow them and they battle on Dr. Evil’s moon base. Austin eventually gets rid of Mini-Me but has to made a choice when he reaches Dr. Evil. She is locked in a poisonous gas chamber and he must decide whether to save her or stop the laser. He stops the laser and Felicity dies. Austin gives chase to Dr. Evil and injures him. But before he captures him, Dr. Evil tells Austin he could use the time machine to go back in time and save Felicity and stoo the laser from destroying D.C. He does that as Dr. Evil escapes and sets off the self-destruct mechanism on the base. Austin and Felicity escape in time and live to fight another day.
Back at Austin’s pad, Fat Bastard arrives to try assinate Powers but is stopped and they continue to party. Meanwhile, Dr. Evil rescues Mini-Me from the depths of space and vows his revenge.
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER
In 2002, Austin returned with the third and final film in the Austin Powers trilogy. This time, the popularity of the series is shown in the opening scene when a movie, Austinpussy, is being made by Steven Spielberg about Austin’s life. The movie features Tom Cruise as Austin, Gwyneth Paltrow as Dixie Normous, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil, Danny DeVito as Mini-Me, and later John Travolta as Goldmember.
After the parody and opening credits, we join Dr. Evil and his crew in his new Hollywood lair as he lays out his new plan for world domination. He plans to travel back in time and bring back Johan van der Smut, aka Goldmember (Myers, once again). Goldmember created a tractor beam that Dr. Evil wants to use to cause global flooding by melting the polar ice caps. But as he finishes laying out his plans, Austin Powers arrives and arrests him.
For his services, Austin is knighted but is disappointed when his father, Nigel (Michael Caine), is not there. He later learns his father was kidnapped and goes to Dr. Evil for help. Afterwards, he travels back in time to 1975 and meets Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) and they plot to stop Goldmember. Back in the present day, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me escape from prison and travel back to 1975 to bring Goldmember back to the present.
Austin and Foxxy follow them back to 2002 and learn that Dr. Evil and company are on a submarine near Tokyo. They run into Fat Bastard in Tokyo and arrest him and then head to the submarine. Once there, they battle the evil villains and it is revealed that Austin and Dr. Evil are brothers. After this revelation, they bond together to stop Goldmember as the movie ends and it returns to the parody movie from the beginning.
THE LEGACY LIVES ON
Even though there are only three films, the series is one of the most popular comedy series from the 1990’s. Mike Myers created characters that people enjoyed and still remember to this day. But Myers was not alone in making these movies hilarious. Members of the cast included Will Ferrell, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, and Michael York. Green’s role of Scott Evil, Dr. Evil’s confused, grungy son, is great and is a character that grows through all three films.
In addition to an amazing cast, all three films were directed by Jay Roach. Roach is known for his Meet the Parents series with Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro and the 2012 comedy The Campaign starring Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Having that stability at director no doubt helped create an entertaining series. But no matter what the audience enjoyed about the films, whether it is the acting, directing, or slapstick comecy, they all stand together as a great series that can be revisited any time for instant laughs.
Daryl Karpinski Jr.