Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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 cliché of a male super-spy who is irresistibly attractive to women, and makes no attempt to resist them. The satiric elements of this cliché 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.
Power’s flamboyant appearance and overt flirtation is probably based on the early 70’s 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); the glasses are standard issue for British military and special forces.
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 Sylvester Stallone's character in Demolition Man) 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.
A few 1960's films which seem to have been source material for the satirical blend of the character:
- You Only Live Twice (1967, the Blofeld/ Dr. Evil appearance)
- Casino Royale (1967, many elements, itself a spoof of the Bond films)
- Blow-Up (1966, the virile fashion photographer)
- Our Man Flint and In Like Flint (1966 and 1967, many elements)
- The Ipcress File (1965, Harry Palmer's horn rimmed glasses)
- In recent years, the Austin Powers Shagaphonic Medley by George S. Clinton was sampled in a rap song.
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