For those who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s, it might have been more common to have heard: “Powers….Austin Powers”, rather than: “Bond…James Bond”. Indeed, the Austin Powers series was a huge hit in its heyday and it remains popular with those who grew up with it. Spanning three movies, it is to spy films what Airplane is to disaster films, that being outrageously funny parodies. While I believe they are all of equal quality, this list asks me to rank them separately, so I will comply. Without further ado, here are the Austin Powers films ranked!
3. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Some believe that the first installment of a series is invariably the best. To that, I summon this film. For the first time, we meet superspy Austin Powers (Mike Myers), who has to foil a plot by the aptly titled Dr. Evil (Myers again). Through several misadventures, Austin meets new friends, as well as foes, while making wisecracks all the way through. Can he save the day?
Though far from being subpar, International Man of Mystery is very much still trying to iron out the fine details of the trilogy in terms of pacing and jokes. Iconic characters have yet to appear and the tone sometimes can be unsure of itself. Nevertheless, it stands strong, with just enough laughs and a hilarious start to the rivalry between the titular Austin and the nefarious Dr. Evil. If I had to choose a film to quote and rewatch endlessly, it wouldn’t be this one, but it’d be a worthy runner up.
2. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
By the time of the third film, quite a bit had changed. Mike Myers’ career was on the decline and James Bond’s franchise was put on hiatus. In spite of this, Goldmember was a rousing success in 2002, with box office receipts satisfying execs. Parodying spy conventions once more, this film features Powers teaming up with several new allies, including his father Nigel (Michael Caine). Secrets are exposed and plans are formed, forcing Powers to save the day once more.
Goldmember has firmer footing than International Man of Mystery in terms of rapid-fire jokes. Despite this, it doesn’t quite live up to the heights of the following film, but when the following film is easily the funniest in the series, it’s understandable that this one doesn’t match up.
1. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Without a doubt, this is the strongest film in the series. It relies on parodying the best conventions of the spy genre and avoiding the overly tired ones. In it, the nefarious Dr. Evil has returned once more, this time to travel back in time and steal Austin’s “mojo”. After several mishaps, Dr. Evil gets what he wants, but Powers strikes back. Will he save the day, or will Dr. Evil get the last laugh this time?
This film stands above the other two without question. It introduces new characters to the beloved franchise and at this point, they haven’t outstayed their welcome. The comedic timing is top-notch and the set pieces are imaginatively fun. All in all, The Spy Who Shagged Me is the top Austin Powers film.