Austin Powers Movies Ranked

2. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Austin Powers is a man out of time as he is brought back from a cryogenic chamber to once again oust his mortal enemy and threat to humanity, Dr. Evil.

The original Austin Powers movie was a simple idea for a small budget comedy: what if Sean Connery’s James Bond came back after 30 years and had to adapt to more modern sensibilities? The result was a pointed deconstruction of Bond and the prior era’s masculinity mixed with loving homage to the films that revolutionised the spy-action genre; one that in some ways did a modern Bond better than some of Pierce Brosnan’s lesser official Bond entries from the late 90s.

Make no mistake, the cult status of this Powers film that transformed the titular hero into one of mainstream cinema’s most recognisable comic figures is much deserved. The comedy may be dated in parts, and it takes a while to get on board the hyper-misogynistic, dirty-toothed hero, but once you’re invested, there’s a lot to dive into for both casual viewers and hardened cinephiles alike.

There are points where International Man of Mystery’s small budget becomes apparent, such as in how they get around Myers playing multiple characters and how choppy the CG is, but this only adds to the flavour and enhances the parodic nature of what Myers and company were trying to achieve; the car scenes in which Austin is filmed against a film wall of stock footage circa 1960 being a particular highlight.

Austin Powers 1 doesn’t quite hit its stride as quickly as its sequel, nor does it stride quite at such a rapid pace, but it’s a damn fine entry into modern comedy canon nonetheless.

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1. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Austin Powers’ long-time foe Dr Evil gets a sidekick one eighth his size and travels through time to steal Powers’ mojo (with a little help from debuting character Fat Bastard), threatening all of the allure of the British secret agent and putting the planet at risk of total annihilation in the trilogy’s most personal Powers journey.

Combining the British style of word gags with the more North American sensibilities of referential humour, and paying homage to a wide range of comedy classics from Peter Sellers films to those of Charlie Chaplin (Dr. Evil’s sequence with an inflatable planet Earth being a hilarious twist on Chaplin’s dictator dance in The Great Dictator from 1940), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me solidified Mike Myers’ Austin Powers as one of the great comedy characters of his decade and one of the greats of the entire contemporary era, with Dr. Evil not very far behind.

The difference between this Powers film and the others is its rapid pace, the jokes at times coming so fast you’ve barely had time to process one before you’re laughing at the other. Fourth wall breaks are more common here too, and they work like gangbusters, while Powers’ journey of coming to terms with aging (and the world beginning to move on faster than he can adapt to) hits like some more respected mature dramas.

In a sense, Austin Powers has always been ludicrous, and in being unafraid to lean into that in The Spy Who Shagged Me, it seems very little is held back, the very best and most intricate of Myers’ comic sensibilities shining through the screen in almost every frame, whether he be playing Powers, Dr. Evil or the iconic Fat Bastard.

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Given the lasting impact of the Austin Powers character, would you like to see this comedy hero of an era long gone return for one last hurrah or would you prefer he stay cryogenically frozen? Let us know in the comments and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more insightful movie articles.

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