Why There Will Never Be Another Comedy Franchise As Successful As Austin Powers

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.

  • It Still Holds Up... For The Most Part

    The Austin Powers series is damn near in syndication, as it's virtually always playing on one cable channel or another. It's been over 15 years sine the release of the final film and this is still happening because the movies are genuinely funny. They're punchy and outlandish, and Myers's mastery of numerous characters is something since unseen. The movies don't try too hard – they recognize the simple brilliance of puns and comedy of errors, but used classic techniques with such earnestness that they didn't grow stale.

    The elements that don't hold up quite as well are racist stereotypes of Asian people, fat-shaming, and sexism, but such is the nature of films even as recent as 2003.

  • People Still Quote It

    People Still Quote It
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Have you ever heard someone ask for "a kajillion bajillion dollars?" Dr. Evil's ransom demand is a spoof on classic Bond villains and their dastardliness. Despite being a satire itself, that very scene has actually been spoofed by later comedies, and that is the mark of a legend.

    But beyond that are the many (usually unfunny) lines people parrot to this day, like, "Yeah, baby!" or "Throw me a frickin' bone, here."