I recently rewatched Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and can confirm that the jokes are still funny, the camp is campy, and Mike Myers is still one of the most beloved Canadians to ever exist.
But something troubled me knowing that in the second film — Austin Powers: The Spy that Shagged Me — Vanessa Kensington, Austin’s partner and eventual wife, is immediately killed off.
Vanessa Kensington was British secret agent and the daughter of Marie Kensington — Austin’s partner in the 1960’s. Vanessa acts as Austin’s liaison into the 1990s as he needs quite a bit of help to catch up on the do’s and don’ts of the modern world. She ultimately helps Austin go from a masculine, sex icon to someone who knows about consent.
Great character! Well, kind of a shitty character in terms of how little development she gets. Oh, also, she’s a freaking robot!
This could all easily be explained as lazy writing to make way for a new female protagonist, but there are some troubling implications.
Firstly, how long has she been a robot? Secondly, where’s the real Vanessa? Thirdly, what happened to Marie Kensington? I will answer these out of order because I’m too lazy to reorganize this post.
The implication is that the real Vanessa is dead, which is kinda shocking at first and then really isn’t that shocking.
I’ve only ever watched the televised version of the film, so when I watched the full thing I was surprised to see all the cut content like this one dude getting decapitated. There’s also scenes of Austin drowning a man in a toilet (what a way to go) and people being incinerated.
Oh, also this:
Hilarious, but also holy shit that would be disturbing to actually see.
My rose-tinted, mind-palace version of the film had most character just being Judo Chopped into submission not people being murdered, so it’s totally within the realm of possibility that Vanessa was killed by some piranhas with knives attached to them or something.
Also the antagonist’s name is Dr. Evil, so yeah he totally could kill people despite being a somewhat benign threat.
Another question is when was Vanessa killed. There’s some speculation around when was she replaced as Basil Exposition, a character whose joke name I only get now when I’m a little older, says that he knew all along that Vanessa was an android.
That implies that they could’ve known the truth about her far back as her introduction to Austin. It could also imply that they’ve known for far longer and never told her Marie, her mother. That makes me really sad. Marie lost a daughter. Let that sink in for a few seconds then forget it like Austin quickly forgets about his dead wife.
This is a moment where I totally would have been ok with the writers being like, “Yeah the marriage didn’t work out, baby. Vanessa said she had to focus on her career in the secret service and I wanted her to be successful, so we split.” Instead, her death is treated as a joke.
Anyway, back to when she could have been replaced. It could have been when they’re separated in Dr. Evil’s base or when Austin and her were kidnapped. There’s also a thought that perhaps Fembots are a bit more real than first thought and may be able to reproduce, which could mean that Marie is in fact a robot as well.
I’ve made a head canon decision: all of the characters are robots. No one is real and everyone is just Samurai Jack transformed into robots as the movie goes on. Sigh.
Lest you forget, dear reader, posts like these are usually written in jest, so I am totally aware that this is a comedy and not to be taken too seriously. I just find is a shame that Vanessa’s character is so unceremoniously killed without the chance to develop. She only has one conversation in the film with her mother and, of course, it’s all about Austin, so even for a character who is supposed to be a career-driven, powerful woman she doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.
In summary, still a good movie, but wish Vanessa was alive.