The Austin Powers franchise is the last great comedy franchise. Not since the trilogy's conclusion have we seen such imitable films, and it's for good reason. The Austin Powers movies are from a different era, one where a comedy franchise could successfully exist, but those days are regrettably gone.
That's not to say there aren't funny movies anymore – of course there are. That's also not to say that Austin Powers franchise boasts the funniest movies in the history of cinema. But there has not since been a comedy series to come close to the level of success attained by the International Man of Mystery, and there are a number of reasons for that.
Here is all the evidence you need as to why the Austin Powers movies are great, and why comedies since have not been able to match their success... and, quite possibly, why they never will.
The Austin Powers Series Continued To Build Its World, Instead Of Relying On The Same, Recycled Plot
In The Hangover series, the same thing happens three different times in three different locales. Not so, in Austin Powers. Each movie has its own identity and storyline, and is consequential to its successors.
Austin and Dr. Evil's relationship evolves from foes to long-lost brothers, and ancillary characters like Mini Me and Fat Bastard return and evolve in their own right. Then, Austin's negligent father is introduced in the third movie, further developing the lore in the series's universe.
Each Movie Actually Made More Money Than The Last Domestically
Domestically, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery grossed $53 million, while the sequels earned $206 million and $213 million, respectively. That's obviously a huge jump between the first and second movies, following positive word of mouth.
More than a decade later, one of the most popular comedy franchises – The Hangover series – grossed $277 million, $254 million, and $112 million on its three respective films. It essentially went in the other direction as people grew tired of the same shtick.
The Second Entry Was Actually Nominated For An Academy Award
Yes, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me was nominated for the vaunted Academy Award category of Best Makeup. Okay, it's not a Best Picture nomination, but it speaks to the production value of the film. Plus, Mike Myers did win Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture in a Leading Role at the American Comedy Awards, so there's that, too!
Beyoncé Was In It!
In addition to Beyoncé, Michael Caine, Britney Spears, and Rob Lowe were in this series as well, bringing a level of authority to it. These big-name stars reflect how huge this pop culture phenomenon was.
And despite the fact that Beyoncé is queen of... everything, she's not known for her comedy chops, and yet she was legitimately funny in Goldmember. Thus was the power of Austin.