‘Spies in Disguise’ Pays Homage To These Three Classic Spy Movies

Will Smith never played a movie spy until now. After all that, Spies in Disguise turns him into a pigeon. Smith provides the voice of Lance Sterling, the best spy in the game, but when he’s in trouble, he turns to inventor Walter (Tom Holland). Walter’s latest formula turns him into a pigeon, but still with the voice of Will Smith. 

Spies in Disguise
Spies in Disguise | Blue Sky Studios/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Spies in Disguise directors Tony Quane and Nick Bruno are big fans of spy movies. They wanted Spies in Disguise to introduce kids to their favorite genre. They had three big movie spies in mind for their film, pigeons and all. Spies in Disguise is now in theaters and we’ll have more with Bruno and Quane over the holidays.

‘Spies in Disguise’ fans should discover these movie spies

Nick Bruno cited the big three spy movie franchises as inspiration for Spies in Disguise: James Bond, Jason Bourne and Mission: Impossible.

Tom Holland and Will Smith: Spies in Disguise
L-R: Walter (Tom Holland) and Lance Sterling (Will Smith) | Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“We’d like to think of this movie as a love letter to all spy movies,” Bruno said. “We know that for kids, this might be their first real spy movie so we wanted to do it justice. So again, we did our research. We went back. We watched all the Bonds, the Bournes, the Hunts, watched all those guys. There’s definitely some homages in there to some other movies.”

‘Spies in Disguise’ was a chance to turn spy movies on their head. 

Jamse Bond, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt are usually loners. Even though Ethan Hunt has a whole team behind him, he’s the one doing the most dangerous stunts. In Spies in Disguise Walter and Lance learn to work together.

Spies in Disguise: Walter and Lance Sterling
Walter and Lance Sterling in Spies in Disguise | Blue Sky Studios/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“What I fell in love with was it had the promise of all the big action spy movies, had all the fun tropes but at its core, it’s really about working together,” Bruno said. “I loved that having a story that tells that in a spy world where nobody trusts each other, nobody works together so I really fell in love with the project.I thought it could be a lot of fun and have a really good message and had to work on it.”

Spies in Disguise made Bruno and Quane a team too.

“That’s actually when I met Nick is when we came together on this film,” Quane said. “It was, like Lance and Walter, a match made in heaven.”

Tony Quane made sure he followed these spy movie tropes

Most spy movies don’t have pigeons, Moonraker aside, and still not as main characters. Even with the pigeons, Tony Quane wanted Spies in Disguise to be as legitimate as James Bond, Mission: Impossible or Jason Bourne.

Walter (Tom Holland) and Lance Sterling (Will Smith)
Walter (Tom Holland) and pigeon Lance Sterling (Will Smith) | Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“It was about a spy turning into a pigeon which was crazy but it was a spy movie which is my favorite genre,” Quane said. “It was just this opportunity to go really big bold comedy, travel the world, action set pieces but like Nick said, it had really great characters at its heart. The character of Lance and Walter were really defined and felt like there was something really interesting to explore there in this relationship.”