Austin Powers

Austin Powers in .

Austin Danger Powers, played by Mike Myers, is the title character of a series of films. The films are a parody of many spy films of the 1960s, primarily the James Bond, Harry Palmer, and Matt Helm film franchises, and an increasingly broad range of other elements of popular culture. With the added features of bodily functions and toilet humour, the films reflect a bawdy sense of humour.

The films parody the clich of a male super-spy who is irresistibly attractive to women, and makes no attempt to resist them. The satiric elements of this clich come from Powers' lack of physical beauty – his bad teeth, for example, are made fun of in several scenes (this is also a reflection of an American stereotype of British people, who are said to have poor dental hygiene).

The first film, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, took about US$68 million in box office sales. Its sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me grossed about US$310 million worldwide. A third, Austin Powers in Goldmember, was released in 2002 and grossed about $288 million worldwide.

Original sources

Powers flamboyant appearance and overt flirtation is probably based on the early 70s TV character Jason King. The name Austin Powers may be inspired by the British Austin-Healey sports cars which were popular in the 1960s.

Powers' "cover persona" is a fashion photographer, providing an opportunity (in the first two films) to satirize Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up as well as Dean Martin's "Matt Helm" character. The signature eye glasses hail from the Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) films (and perhaps also Peter Sellers in Casino Royale).

Another major source of humour, especially in the first film, comes from Powers' having been cryogenically frozen in the 1960s and then revived in the late 1990s (roughly parodying the 1966 spy series Adam Adamant Lives! about an Edwardian secret agent who was similarly frozen) without having any sense of the social change that has occurred in the intervening 30 years.

"...but as long as people are still having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence-free environment, I'll be sound as a pound!"

Powers' nemesis is Dr. Evil, based on the Blofeld character from the Bond films. Other Bond inspired villains include Frau Farbissina, based on From Russia With Love's Rosa Klebb; Dr. Evil's number-two man, Number 2, inspired by Thunderball's Emilio Largo; Alotta Fagina, a pun on Goldfinger's Pussy Galore; and Random Task, again a pun, this time on Goldfinger's Oddjob.

As for the female lead characters; From "International Man of Mystery", Mrs. Kensington & her daughter Vanessa (and the tight-fitting leather catsuits they wear) is based on the female partners of John Steed from "The Avengers" (especially Diana Rigg's "Mrs. Emma Peel" character.)

Felicity Shagwell from "The Spy Who Shagged Me" is based on three things: the stereotypical "Hippie Chick" from the 1960's, the name is based on the double-entendre inspired names of several female James Bond Characters such as "Pussy Galore" and "Xenia Onnatop". To a certain extent, she could also be an American Version of "Modesty Blaise".

Foxy Cleopatra from "Goldmember" is clearly based on female characters from 1970's "Blaxploitation" or "Soul Cinema" motion pictures, especially those featuring Pam Grier. The name itself is based on "Foxy Brown" (Played by Pam Grier) and "Cleopatra Jones" (Played by Tamara Dobson.)

A few 1960's films which seem to have been source material for the satirical blend of the character:


  • In recent years, the Austin Powers Shagaphonic Medley by George S. Clinton was sampled in a rap song.

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