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Film / The Avengers (1998)

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The Avengers is a 1998 action movie inspired by the 1960s British TV series The Avengers. It stars Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, Uma Thurman as Emma Peel and Sean Connery hamming it up as Sir August de Wynter, an evil Scotsman who can control the weather. Eddie Izzard plays the henchman Bailey.

Do try your best to not confuse this movie with 2012's The Avengers, which was renamed Avengers Assemble for the British market to avoid confusion.


The Avengers contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Mrs. Peel is perfect at whatever she does, from science to chess to swordplay, making Steed's character seem somewhat redundant.
  • Alice Allusion:
    • One of the villain organizations is named "Wonderland Weather".
    • Sir August plays a game of croquet with Father, as Alice did with the Red Queen.
    • At one point Mother says "I often think of six impossible things before breakfast" (a paraphrase of the White Queen's line).
    • One of the Ministry's agents is named "Alice".
    • Mrs. Peel falls "down a rabbit hole" in the maze and ended up in Sir August's clutches. He uses a mixture of hypnosis and drugs to send her on a hallucinogenic journey through a bizarre area.
    • Mrs. Peel escapes from Sir August's tesseract rooms by jumping through a mirror on a wall, similar to the way Alice went through the looking glass.
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  • Almost Kiss: Steed and Mrs. Peel, while he's helping her put on her boots.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Steed might just love driving a 1930s car, but that doesn't explain how other people do in that movie universe that has otherwise very 1990s designs and very late 1990s electronics.
  • Are These Wires Important?: Steed rips the guts out of one of Sir August's robot insects.
  • Art Imitates Art: The endless stair Mrs. Peel tries to descend during her drug-induced nightmare is clearly inspired by the works of the artist M. C. Escher.
  • Attack Drone: Sir August's flying armed robot insects.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Bailey said "Oh FUCK" just before his death to raise the film's rating. The line was clearly dubbed in by someone who isn't Eddie Izzard; his lips don't move, and it sounds nothing like him.
  • Badass Back: Mrs. Peel during her sword fight with Steed.
  • Banister Slide: Mrs. Peel does a short one during her sword duel with Steed.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final fight between Steed and Sir August.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The bear costumes the recruited scientists wear.
  • Bookends: Near the beginning Steed warns Mrs. Peel not to eat a macaroon when taking tea with Mother, because they're Mother's favorite. She does so anyway, which annoys Steed. At the end they're taking tea with Mother again and she declines a macaroon, showing how much they have come to respect and care for each other after their adventure.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Steed's Trubshaw waistcoat.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: This movie relies heavily on this trope; virtually no one shows any amount of emotion at any point in the entire movie despite being in mortal danger. One of the few exceptions is Sir August's angry outbursts at Mrs. Peel's successful attempts to rile him.
  • Caretaker Reversal: After Steed is attacked by Mrs. Peel's clone, the real Mrs. Peel takes him to her home to recover and nurses him back to health. Later on, after Mrs. Peel is captured and brainwashed by Sir August, Steed rescues her and takes her to his home to recover.
  • Casting Gag: Sean Connery as a villain that wouldn't look out of place in a James Bond film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The boots Steed gives to Mrs. Peel.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Steed's training in hand-to-hand combat at the beginning of the film and his later battles using those skills.
  • Clear My Name: Mrs. Peel after her clone blows up the Prospero lab.
  • Collapsing Lair: Sir August's underground island base.
  • Composite Character: As well as Mrs. Peel, screenwriter Don MacPherson intentionally drew on elements of Cathy Gale for this updating.
  • Cool Car: Steed drives a really nice 1928 Bentley, and Mrs. Peel an equally nice Jaguar E-Type. Too bad the latter gets blown up. In addition, a deleted scene shows Sir August driving away in a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud equipped with a snowplow.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Sir August could have legally made billions of dollars by selling the use of his Weather-Control Machine to the nations of the world.
  • Damsel in Distress: Subverted when Mrs. Peel escapes from Sir August on her own.
  • Day of the Week Name: Sir August and his family, named after months.
  • Deus ex 'Scuse Me: Steed and Mrs. Peel are at Wonderland Weather getting a tour from the receptionist. There's a noise (telephone ring?) elsewhere and the receptionist leaves, allowing Steed and Mrs. Peel to look around unnoticed.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Sir August
  • Dirty Old Man: Sir August and Mrs. Peel (Sean Connery is 40 years older than Uma Thurman).
  • Disney Villain Death: Bailey's demise.
  • The Dragon: Mrs. Peel's clone and Bailey.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Mrs. Peel may have done this with her clone's Spy Catsuit.
  • Dull Surprise: John Steed and Emma Peel spend the film reacting politely and bantering during dangerous situations instead of getting excited or freaked out by any of it. It proved to be one of the biggest criticisms leveled against the movie.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Sir August's island base.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Mrs. Peel's car after the flying robot insect attack.
  • Evil Twin: Mrs. Peel's clone, created by Sir August.
  • Fast-Roping: Used by Bailey just prior to his fight with Mrs. Peel.
  • The Film of the Series
  • Flower-Pot Drop: At the beginning of the film. Steed is almost hit by a flowerpot that drops down from a window above him.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Steed warns Mrs. Peel not to take a macaroon when they have tea with Mother.
  • Foreshadowing: Sir August talking about shooting trespassers, the Wonderland Weather globes and Steed's "I'll stick to swordplay".
  • Fun with Acronyms: BROLLY (British slang term for "umbrella").
  • Fur and Loathing: Mrs. Peel's clone when she tries to kill Steed.
  • Going in Circles: Mrs. Peel while trapped in Sir August's tesseract trap.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The milkman, during Steed's test.
  • Groin Attack: Mrs. Peel to Bailey during their fight in Sir August's base.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sir August, by his own fighting staff and a bolt of lightning from his Weather-Control Machine.
  • Hotline: Mother is the head of The Ministry, a top secret British intelligence agency. He has a red phone on his office that connects directly to the British Prime Minister.
  • Hot Scientist: Mrs. Peel is a beautiful meteorologist/physicist.
  • Hypnotize the Princess: Sir August tries this on Mrs. Peel.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Sir August to a captured Mrs. Peel.
  • Idiot Ball: Mother takes possession of it early on. The Ministry has video evidence that Mrs. Peel is the one who sabotaged the Prospero project, yet they see it fit to have her assigned to the case.
  • Impersonating the Evil Twin: Mrs. Peel enters Sir August's base by posing as her Evil Twin clone.
  • Instant Sedation: Sir August to Mrs. Peel (drug-tipped dart) and Father to Mrs. Peel (aerosol gas).
  • Karmic Death: Father and Mrs. Peel's clone.
  • Knockout Gas: Father knocks Mrs. Peel out instantly with gas from an aerosol can.
  • Large Ham: Sean Connery as Sir August de Wynter.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Five times.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Such as pulling Sir August high up into the air.
  • Meaningful Name: The villain's name is Sir August de Wynter, and he can control the weather.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Lab destruction -> weather control extortion conspiracy.
  • The Mole: Father
  • Monumental Damage: Nelson's Column and Big Ben's clock tower.
  • Mythology Gag
  • National Stereotypes: A major criticism of the film, especially in the UK, was that the American production team fatally misunderstood the "British-ness" central to the series and instead based the characterizations heavily on American stereotypes of British people, depicting them as overly polite and obsessed with tea and the weather. The most notable example is the inclusion of an inexplicable tea dispenser on the dashboard of Steed's Bentley.
  • Neck Snap: Mrs. Peel's clone, to a Prospero Project Lab staff member.
  • Odd Couple: Steed plays by the rules, Mrs. Peel doesn't.
  • Offhand Backhand: Steed, at the conclusion of one of his fight scenes.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Sir August plays one in his mansion.
  • Opposites Attract: See Odd Couple above.
  • Parasol of Pain: Steed uses his umbrella as a weapon numerous times.
  • Profane Last Words: Bailey is both The Voiceless and The Dragon. Just before his Disney Villain Death he says "Oh fuck!", his first (and last) words in the movie.
  • Pungeon Master: Mrs. Peel.
  • Re-Cut: The original cut was 115 minutes long, but after a disastrous test screening, it was hacked down to 89 minutes. It is unlikely that we'll ever see the original cut.
  • Redundant Parody: The movie can come off as this, as it's supposed to be a self-aware parody of the original series even though the series was already self-aware.
  • Remake Cameo: Patrick Macnee provided the voice of the invisible Colonel Jones.
  • Secret Test: Steed's inviting Mrs. Peel to Boodles.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The Weather-Control Machine after it's turned off.
  • Share Phrase: "How real will it feel" and "I thought I was seeing double".
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
    • After finding a dead scientist wearing a teddy bear costume Steed says "Alas, poor teddy", from "Alas poor Yorick" in Hamlet.
    • When Sir August appears before the Council of Ministers to make his demands, he starts off by saying "Now is the winter of your discontent", from Gloster's line in Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent".
  • Smart People Play Chess: Mrs. Peel during her game with Steed.
  • Spot of Tea: Steed has a tap in the dashboard of his Bentley that dispenses the stuff. He and Mrs. Peel take tea as they drive.
  • Spy Speak: When Mrs. Peel calls up Sir August from the phone booth on top of his island Elaborate Underground Base, she says "How Now Brown Cow" as a password to enter the base. She is apparently trying to pass as her Evil Twin clone (who was killed earlier trying to kidnap her).
  • Stalker Shrine: Sir August has one to Mrs. Peel (or her clone) in his mansion.
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: The flying robot insects, to Steed and Mrs. Peel.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Sir August after his fight with Steed in the hedge maze.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The film's one joke is that everyone treats everything like an Unusually Uninteresting Sight. Unfortunately, the film is so bad at it it comes off as Dull Surprise.
  • Stock Footage: The destruction of the Big Ben clock tower is recycled footage from Mars Attacks!
  • Storming the Castle: Steed and Mrs. Peel, to Sir August's base.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: The meeting of the Council of Ministers.
  • Sword Cane: In the final fight with Sir August, Steed reveals his sword umbrella.
  • Tagline: "When evil reigns/rains, only one team can weather the storm." But can they weather a Hurricane of Puns?
  • Tap on the Head: Bailey to Alice and Mrs. Peel's Evil Twin clone to Steed.
  • Tracking Device: The "micro-tag" (radio homing signal) in Mrs. Peel's boots.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Sir August renders Mrs. Peel unconscious with a drug-tipped dart.
  • Unflinching Faith in the Brakes: Alice, as Mrs. Peel's car approaches.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Steed and Mrs. Peel. At least until near the end when they kiss romantically, breaking every rule in the Avengers book.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: When Steed is attacked at the beginning of the movie.
  • Villainous Crush: Sir August appears to have one for Mrs. Peel.
  • The Voiceless:
    • Bailey says two words just before he dies (see Avoid the Dreaded G Rating above). According to Eddie Izzard, the script only gave him a few bland lines and generic threats, and he decided the character would work better saying nothing at all.
    • Mrs. Peel's clone. She says nothing at all throughout the movie, but we don't know whether it's because she's mute or just has nothing to say.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Upon finding a dead man wearing a teddy bear costume, Steed quips that "the teddy bears are having a picnic", in reference to the famous children's song "The Teddy Bears' Picnic".
  • Weather-Control Machine: Sir August uses one to try to extort 10 percent of Britain's Gross National Product.
  • We Can Rule Together: Sir August to Mrs. Peel after he captures her.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Alice (a senior Ministry agent) delivers Sir August's message to Mother and reveals that Father is a traitor, she disappears from the movie completely.
  • Wire Dilemma: While trying to turn off the Weather-Control Machine, Mrs. Peel has to choose between the red and black wires.
  • You Didn't Ask: Steed reveals to Mrs. Peel that he's been ordered to kill her. When she asks why he didn't tell her earlier...
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sir August and his scientists.


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