The name’s Bond. Bondathon. With twenty-four official James Bond films to conquer before No Time To Die hits theaters, Bond fan Anna Swanson and Bond newbie Meg Shields are diving deep on 007. Martinis shaken and beluga caviar in hand, the Double Take duo are making their way through the Bond corpus. In this entry, they’re on a quest to identify every single James Bond reference in the Austin Powers trilogy.
The James Bond films have always been ripe for parody. Between the outlandish villains, innuendo-laden Bond girl names, and contrived plots, these cornerstones of spy cinema practically invite a good riffing. The best parodies are the ones done with love, where the jabs are made with reverence and the pulls are deep enough to prove that those taking license with the original work have done their homework. There’s no better example of this than Mike Myers’ take on 007: Austin Powers.
The Austin Powers films are (and we really can’t stress this enough) very very goofy. And look, sometimes you want, or even need, to watch something that requires precisely two brain cells. But amidst all the amusing low hanging fruit, the trilogy actually manages to take some surprisingly weighty satirical swings. Its lighthearted tone relishes Austin’s enjoyment of the company of women in ways that often exceed physical pleasure. And his boyish charms are decidedly less menacing than the brooding superspy of Ian Fleming’s creation.
While more modern Bond entries have started to confront Bond’s personal sins, the persistent throughline that unites the series’ antagonists remains relatively unexamined. Namely: that most, if not all, Bond villains are vessels of corporate greed. They are industrialists and entrepreneurs whose primary, and often only, motivation is money. And the Austin Powers films, from the jump, are quick to point this out: that really, there is little separating these cartoonish villains from real-life capitalist billionaires.
These parodies toe the line between an unabashed love of the source material and a critical eye of some of their predecessor’s more dicey elements. They’re also prescient in a narrative sense, with a (shockingly) similar fraternal plot twist existing in both the final Austin Powers film and the most recent Bond movie, Spectre.
While the Austin Powers films riff on James Bond, they also exist in conversation with the 007 franchise. As a result, increased knowledge of one can only deepen an appreciation of the other. So, in that spirit, join us, for a thorough breakdown of every single Bond reference in the Austin Powers trilogy.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first Austin Powers film is also the one that is most chock full of James Bond references. You Only Live Twice is a vital touchpoint for the film, with allusions to characters, sets, and lines of dialogue integrated at an almost minute-by-minute pace. British super-spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) awakens in the 1990s, after being cryogenically frozen in the 1960s, in order to take down his arch-nemesis, Dr. Evil (also Mike Myers). The maniacal MD has his sights set on world domination. To combat him, Austin relies on a Rolodex of colorful characters that recall many staples of Bond’s roster of allies.
- Austin Powers is based on James Bond.
- Dr. Evil’s white Persian cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, shares a striking resemblance with Blofeld’s unnamed feline accomplice.
- Like Blofeld in the Bond movies, before we see Dr. Evil’s face introduced in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, we see his cat.
- Dr. Evil’s personal aesthetic, namely his collarless gray jacket and facial scar, is directly pulled from Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) and Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) in Dr. No and You Only Live Twice, respectively.
- While many Bond movies’ villains have underground lairs (e.g. Dr. No, Goldfinger, Live and Let Die), Dr. Evil’s lair, located beneath a volcano, is a direct reference to Blofeld’s volcanic hideout in You Only Live Twice.
- The opening scene is set in 1967, when You Only Live Twice premiered, hammering home the continuing influence of the fifth Bond film.
- Dr. Evil “fires” his inner circle by launching them from their chairs to off-screen deaths. In Thunderball, Blofeld electrocutes his (in)subordinates’ chairs with the push of a button.
- Production design king Ken Adam’s tenure with the Bond franchise serves as the inspiration for the layout and decor of Dr. Evil’s various lairs.
- Like the operatives of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., Dr. Evil has a ring with insignia. The Bond baddies have an octopus. Dr. Evil has a fancy “E.”
- Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), Dr. Evil’s right-hand woman, is based on the nefarious Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), the antagonistic agent in From Russia With Love. Fun fact: Klebb’s name is a pun on a Soviet phrase for women’s rights (khleb i rozy).
- Austin’s style takes direct inspiration from our favorite Bond, George Lazenby. Lazenby’s Bond dared to dress to impress with a ruffled silk blouse, vibrant turtlenecks, and swingin’ suits. Some of Austin’s outfits are direct callbacks.
- Of all the Bond films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has the most direct influence on the Austin Powers trilogy’s ’60s look. The Bond film’s bold mod set design is especially apparent in Blofeld’s mountain lair/allergy-research institute.
- Many of the Bond films of the Sean Connery era feature rear projection of varying quality. The Austin Powers films regularly employ the effect, and intentionally draw attention to it.
- Much like James Bond, Austin Powers has had many wives (wink), but only one he was married to.
- The aptly named Basil Exposition (Michael York) is based on Bond’s superior, M (Bernard Lee). Like his counterpart in the parody, M primarily, if not exclusively, serves to fill Bond (and viewers) in on mission details.
- Like Bond with his Aston Martin DB5, Austin drives a signature car: a Shaguar decorated with a Union Jack.
- Speaking of the Shaguar, Austin’s vehicle has many gadgets, including a video call interface. Similar devices are visible in Bond’s high-tech vehicles from You Only Live Twice up to GoldenEye.
- Thunderball begins with an absolutely wild cold-open where the enemy agent Bond is tracking attempts to evade 007 by dressing in drag. Bond catches on fast, and a banana pants brawl ensues where our hero (apparently) beats a woman. This is most likely the reason for Austin’s suspicion that his would-be assassin may be disguised as a woman. The motif returns later when Austin mistakenly punches Basil Exposition’s unsuspecting mother.
- Another reference to Bond’s assassin-thwarting comes when Austin uses a villainous woman as a human shield. Bond notably pulls this move in Goldfinger, Thunderball, and The Spy Who Loved Me.
- Dr. Evil makes several getaways in various vessels resembling sensitive human anatomy. The Bond films make use of similar, albeit less anatomical, escape pods. For instance, in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond and Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) make a hasty escape from Stromberg’s underwater lair via a cushiony submarine-lifeboat hybrid.
- Dr. Evil’s voyage to space is a reference to the lunar exploits of Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), the central villain of Moonraker.
- Austin’s reanimation after being cryogenically frozen for thirty years is staged in a similar manner to the decontamination scene in Dr. No.
- During the decontamination scene, we get our first glimpse of Austin’s bountiful chest hair, a clear homage to Bond actor Sean Connery’s similarly plentiful body hair.
- The civility between Basil and Russian agents recalls the working relationship that Bond and M have with their counterpart on the other side of the iron curtain, General Gogol (Walter Gotell).
- Austin goes to Vegas! This is a clear nod to the aggressively Vegas-set Bond film Diamonds are Forever.
- Austin and Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley) ride On Her Majesty’s Las Vegas Bus Tour. This harkens to the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
- The hat-welding Random Task is a surrogate for Goldfinger’s Odd Job.
- Dr. Evil’s underling, Number Two (Robert Wagner), wears an eyepatch, like Thunderball’s Largo (Adolfo Celi).
- In one of the trilogy’s more astute satirical moves, the Austin Powers films regularly underline the corporate flavor of villains in the Bond franchise. Bond baddies tend to be entrepreneurs and mega-corp owners. Virtucon, the fictional evil enterprise in the Austin Powers films, which has stakes in everything from Starbucks to Hollywood film productions, brings this capitalist subtext to the forefront.
- Dr. Evil points out that hijacking nukes to hold the world hostage is “what we always do.” Indeed, this is the oldest trick in the Bond villain book and an obvious nod to the serialized nature of the franchise.
- Bond, like Austin, has used marriage to go undercover. Most notably (and painfully) in You Only Live Twice, where he dons yellowface and marries Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama).
- While in Vegas, Austin goes to a casino and gambles against a villain, a favorite reconnaissance activity of 007.
- There are a couple of notable brash Americans in the Bond franchise, notably: J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) and Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker). The encouraging bathroom cowboy Austin meets in the casino is a nod to 007’s loud Yankee friends.
- In GoldenEye’s cold open, Bond takes on foes in the bathroom of a Soviet chemical weapons facility. This is referenced when Irish assassin Paddy O’Brien (Paul Dillon) attempts to catch Austin with his pants down.
- The Bond films are famous for giving their women names that double as innuendos (e.g. Pussy Galore, Xenia Onatopp, Holly Goodhead). The Austin Powers films gleefully take up this tradition with Alotta Fagina (Fabiana Udenio).
- Austin Powers’ seduction of Alotta Fagina recalls the scene in A View to a Kill where Bond jumps into a hot tub to fraternize with Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton) on a reconnaissance mission.
- Alotta’s Eastern-inspired apartment recalls the ex-pat Dikko Henderson’s (Charles Gray) Japanese apartment in You Only Live Twice.
- While in the hot tub, Alotta directly quotes Tiger Tanaka’s (Tetsurō Tamba) statement from You Only Live Twice that “in Japan, men come first and women come second.” Austin’s response of “or not at all” makes apparent the inference of the quip from the 1967 film.
- Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’” plays while Austin seduces and destroys the fembots. Sinatra sang the opening Bond song in You Only Live Twice.
- When Vanessa gives Austin toothpaste, he assumes it’s explosive. This references the Denonite brand explosive toothpaste Bond uses in License to Kill.
- In an especially memorable group therapy monologue, Dr. Evil recalls the luge lessons of his childhood. This is clearly a reference to the climactic bobsled finale of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
- Austin’s famous “judo chop” can be seen in the jerky, robot-like hand to hand combat style of Roger Moore.
- Like Bond villains, Dr. Evil appreciates the power of visual aids when revealing his evil plans.
- Much to the frustration of Scott Evil (Seth Green), Dr. Evil, like many Bond villains before him, gives Austin new clothes and serves him dinner rather than killing him instantly.
- Dr. Evil paraphrases Goldfinger’s line: “I expect them to die.”
- Like Bond villains before him (e.g. Largo, Dr. Kananga, Stromberg, and Sanchez) Dr. Evil loves sharks.
- Dr. Evil places his hostages on an unnecessarily slow dipping mechanism and leaves them to die, giving them ample time to escape. This is a frequent mistake of Bond villains (e.g. Dr. Kanagna [Yaphet Kotto] slowly lowering Bond and Solitaire [Jane Seymour] into shark-infested waters in Live and Let Die).
- Austin makes many puns at the expense of his murder victims. All the Bonds have a penchant for puns, but Pierce Brosnan is especially guilty of dad jokes.
- Austin is framed between the legs of one of the fembots. The shot references a similar staging in You Only Live Twice and the poster for For Your Eyes Only.
- As seen from his undies, Austin loves the Union Jack. In the iconic cold open of The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond patriotically jumps off a mountain with a Union Jack parachute.
- Dr. Evil’s lair, much like the hollowed-out volcano base in You Only Live Twice, has an easily enabled self-destruct system.
- Both Doctors Evil and No wear protective suits during their third act antics.
- Random Task makes a final appearance in Austin’s hotel room. The moment recalls the reappearance of Diamonds Are Forever’s henchmen, Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith).
- Austin and Vanessa end the film in far happier matrimony than the closing moments of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.