The Spy Kids series consists of four American/Spanish family action films in franchise comedy series produced by Troublemaker Studios and Dimension Films written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The main plot initially follows the adventures of two Cortez children (portrayed by Alexa PenaVega and Daryl Sabara) who become involved in their parents' espionage. The rest of their family are also spies as well, including their estranged uncle Machete and maternal grandparents. The films tend to have a strong Hispanic heritage theme, as Rodriguez is of Mexican descent.
Spy Kids (2001)
- Main article: Spy Kids
After retiring from espionage for ten years, Gregorio and Ingrid are pulled back into duty for their important assignment despite the fact they were out of practice, and were captured. Their two children, Carmen and Juni (Alexa PenaVega and Daryl Sabara), discover the truth of their parents' past, which they had neglected to tell them because they were afraid that if they knew, they would picture danger at every corner; and decide to rescue them. On their first mission, Carmen and Juni manage to bring around their estranged uncle, Isador "Machete" Cortez (Danny Trejo), a genius gadget inventor and Juni helps to redeem Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Together, Carmen and Juni thwart the plan of Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub) to develop an army of androids resembling young children for a mastermind named Mr. Lisp (Robert Patrick) and his partner Ms. Gradenko (Teri Hatcher). The robots based on Carmen and Juni became part of Floop's show.
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002)
- Main article: Spy Kids 2 - The Island of Lost Dreams
As agents of the OSS, Carmen and Juni face a particularly hard competition with Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O'Leary and Emily Osment), the two children of a double-dealing agent Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge), whom Carmen and Juni helped to rescue them from the first film. Juni gets fired from the OSS after fighting with Gary over a smaller version of the transmooker, a device that can shut off all electronic devices even though it was Gary who started the fight. Juni loses his spot for the best spy kid of the year award, while Donnagon plans to steal the transmooker to take over the world. On their second mission, Carmen and Juni follow the trail to the mysterious island of Liki-Liki which is home to Romero (Steve Buscemi), an eccentric scientist who attempted to create genetically-miniaturised animals, but instead ended up with his island inhabited by mutant monsters. Eventually, Donnagon is fired and Gary is suspended, and the transmooker is destroyed. Juni is offered his job back, but in order to take a break from the OSS, he retires to start his own private eye agency.
Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003)
- Main article: Spy Kids 3-D - Game Over
After retiring from the OSS, Juni is thrust back into service when an evil mastermind named Sebastian the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) creates a fictional video game called Game Over, which hypnotizes its users. Carmen was sent on a mission to disable the game, but disappeared on Level 4. With the help of his maternal grandfather, Valentin Avellan (Ricardo Montalban), who uses a wheelchair, Juni is sent after Carmen and helps her to disable the game in order to save the world. It is revealed that Sebastian was the one who disabled Valentin in the first place. Instead of avenging his former partner, Valentin forgives Sebastian who is redeemed.
Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011)
- Main article: Spy Kids 4D - All the Time in the World
The OSS has become the world's top spy agency, while the Spy Kids department has become defunct. A retired spy Marissa (Jessica Alba) is thrown back into the action along with her two stepchildren, Rebecca and Cecil (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook), when a maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) attempts to take over the world. In order to save the world, Rebecca and Cecil must team up with Marissa, along with familiar faces Juni and Carmen, who are young adults and have passed the torch on to Rebecca and Cecil.
2018 Netflix series
- Main article: Spy Kids: Mission Critical
On June 16, 2016, Netflix announced an animated Spy Kids TV show entitled Spy Kids: Mission Critical from producer Bob Weinstein and The Weinstein Company, with FM DeMarco of Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge as head writer. The show follows brother-and-sister team Juni and Carmen Cortez as they attend Spy Kids Academy, a top-secret spy school for kid agents. They must train and lead a team of fellow Spy Kids cadets against the forces of S.W.A.M.P. (Sinister Wrongdoers Against Mankind’s Preservation) and their leader, Golden Brain. The series will be available to Netflix members worldwide in 2018.
- Italics indicate a cameo
- A dark grey cell indicates the character did not appear in the film
Background and Production
Spy Kids was heavily influenced by James Bond films. Director Robert Rodriguez says the first film was the "Willy and James Bond mix" and the second was the "Mysterious Island and James Bond mix"; by this pattern the third film could be described as the "Tron and James Bond mix". Technology in the films is almost always portrayed as looking friendly, and a bit cartoonish.
The spy organization featured in the films is called the OSS. The initials seem to have been derived from the Office of Strategic Services, a former American intelligence organization during WWII which later evolved into the CIA. Note there is a character named Donnagon Giggles, after William Joseph Donovan, the director of the real OSS. What the initials stand for in the Spy Kids universe is never specified on screen, but, according to the Spy Kids Adventures books, they stand for their real life initials, Office of Strategic Services.
One of the chief themes of Spy Kids is the unity of family. The films also play with the idea of children having adult responsibilities, and how keeping secrets from family members can have a negative effect on relationships. The first film also deals extensively with sibling rivalry and the responsibility of older children. It also has a strong sense of Hispanic heritage.