The ’90s were perhaps the polar opposite of the ’70s when it came to aesthetic and general tone. Bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam brought a working man’s appeal into the limelight, while the garish styles inherited from the ’70s and ’80s started to die out. Action movies took grip of the film world, but some things never changed, like spy movies. Pierce Brosnan signed on to be James Bond and the Bond films continued — modernized, but still pretty much the same.
To say that the spy thrillers of old were ripe for parody was an understatement. So when Mike Myers teamed with director Jay Roach to cash in on Myer’s SNL and Wayne’s World popularity by spoofing the Bond films, the timing was just about perfect. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was the quintessential amalgamation of modern, existential angst and classic, campy spy films. The series went on for three installments, each more ridiculous than the last, then everyone moved on. We still joke about them to this day, granted, not as much as we used to.
Director Jay Roach spoke with Forbes about his latest, All The Way, but the topic of his first feature film, International Man of Mystery, came up, with its 20-year anniversary looming in the near future. Would he bring it back?
“We have talked about different ways for Austin Powers to come back but we’ve never really clicked on anything that just seemed like it absolutely had to be done. We wouldn’t just want to do something that just exploited the whole brand. It would be fun to come up with something to connect back but I have no idea what that would be, I really don’t. “
Perhaps he is right, that bringing back the Austin Powers film franchise would simply be exploiting what once was funny. The James Bond films ditched the formula for a more gritty approach and the Bourne films have helped to make the whole spy thriller industry a bit more action-oriented and realistic. It’s difficult to appeal to a generation that grew up with James Bond being a certified badass with a character like Austin Powers who is spoofing classic, British goofball spies.
Plus, we’ve seen what happens when a beloved parody film makes a comeback in both Zoolander 2 and Anchorman 2, where all of those great memories were simply exploited and left longtime fans more disappointed than anything else. Maybe Austin Powers can simply remain groovy as a throwback to the late ’90s and early aughts?