“Yeah, baby!” The shagadelic Austin Powers series, created by and starring SNL alum Mike Myers as a follow-up to the smash hit Wayne’s World, started with a modest sleeper hit and ended up a major part of the pop culture lexicon. Every day, children are described as “mini-me’s,” and the franchise’s characters have become so iconic that the 2022 Super Bowl saw the cast reunite in an ad to sell General Motors’ new line of electric vehicles.
With Myers continuing to tease that a new sequel is in the works, now is the perfect time to look back on the series that starred Myers as a 1960’s spy who was cryogenically frozen in 1967 and revived 30 years later to save the world from his deadliest foe, Dr. Evil (also played by Myers). Below is our definitive ranking of the original Powers trilogy in order from worst to first.
3. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
The third film in the series is generally agreed to be the worst. The film starts strong with a film-within-a-film starring then-it couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and “directed” by Steven Spielberg, and the meh-ness of the sequence set the tone for the rest of the film: big-budget, visually appealing, with great performances (seriously, there’s nothing Tom Cruise can’t do), but ultimately forgettable.
Myers, already playing both comic leads as well as antagonist “Fat Bastard,” adds himself to the cast with a fourth character, Goldmember, a character whose distinguishing characteristics are that he’s Dutch and a straight riff on the James Bond villain Goldfinger, except with a solid gold…well, you get it. More of a retread than a sequel, Goldmember set box office records, ultimately drawing in $300 million before adding in profits from home video rental.
2. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
This was the film that introduced the world to Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, Number Two, and Scott Evil. After So I Married An Axe Murderer and Wayne’s World 2 both disappointed at the box office, audiences wondered if Myers was a one-hit wonder. Instead, he bounced back with this modestly budgeted sendup of 1960s-era spy films like In Like Flynn and the James Bond series as well as films by British comedians Dudley Moore, The Goodies, and Peter Sellers, who was famous for playing multiple roles in his films.
While the movie was a hit, raking in almost $68 million on a $16.5 million budget, it was in the home video market that Austin Powers really thrived, propelled by highly positive word-of-mouth. This would set the table for the huge success of the number-one film on this list.
1. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
As much as Verne Troyer’s “Mini Me,” a clone designed by Dr. Evil to replace his eternally disappointing son Scott, is woven into the tapestry of popular culture, it’s crazy to think that he wasn’t introduced until the second film in the Austin Powers series. It’s a movie that expanded on the best jokes from the first film and introduced some great new ones. It also features the introduction of Myers’ gross-out Scottish villain Fat Bastard as well as Rob Lowe, doing a pitch-perfect Robert Wagner impression, as the young version of Wagner’s character Number 2. While critical reaction was extremely mixed, audience reaction was not, and the film took in over $300 million total.