Families who tuned into Netflix‘s premiere of “Spy Kids: Armageddon” on September 22, 2023, may have been surprised to find that the fifth film in the successful “Spy Kids” franchise features an entirely new cast without so much as a cameo by the original “Spy Kids” — Alexa PenaVega, who’s now a regularly-featured Hallmark star married to fellow actor and Big Time Rush band member Carlos PenaVega, or Daryl Sabara, who has since become a voiceover actor and is married to pop star Meghan Trainor, according to People.
Though PenaVega has said the cast and crew from the “Spy Kids” movies has remained tight over the years, Robert Rodriquez, who has directed every “Spy Kids” movie, told Yahoo that he “wanted to reestablish a new family” in the latest movie. But he left the door open for PenaVega, now 35, and Sabara, 31, to possibly return to the franchise in the future.
Here’s what you need to know:
Director Robert Rodriguez Says He’s Still Connected With Alexa PenaVega & Daryl Sabara
The original “Spy Kids” movie debuted in 2001 with PenaVega — then known as Alexa Vega — and Sabara playing siblings Carmen and Juni Cortez, the children of spies portrayed by Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino, per Yahoo. After the original movie made nearly $150 million at the box office, the cast returned for two sequels — “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams” and “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.”
In 2011, PenaVega and Sabara were back again for “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.” Even though a new family was featured with parents played by Jessica Alba and Joel McHale, PenaVega and Sabara both returned to play adult spies, according to FanSided.
But Rodriguez decided to leave both original “Spy Kids” actors out of the mix for the latest movie, which centers around a whole new family with Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi playing the parents and kid actors Everly Carganilla and Connor Esterson as their kids.
“I wanted to reestablish a new family,” he told Yahoo. “It could still be in the same world, so if we get to make more films, there easily could be legacy characters that come back. But because it’d been so long (since the last movie), it was important to just start the franchise fresh and then go from there. I would love to bring back (former characters), I would love to connect the worlds. That would be so fun.”
Interestingly, he acknowledged that many of the Netflix movie’s fans will likely be parents who grew up with “Spy Kids” and want to share it with their own kids — even if it features different characters.
“Right now I just know a lot of families, a lot of parents who were kids when (the films) came out originally, now they have their own kids,” Rodriguez said. “So it’s a real legacy moment for them to watch this together with their kids, and I was really looking forward to that.”
Rodriguez told Netflix’s Tudum that he’s still in touch with PenaVega and Sabara, so it wouldn’t be hard to invite them into the fold for a future movie. There is also currently a spin-off cartoon airing on Netflix — “Spy Kids: Mission Critical” — following the adventures of Carmen and Juni, but neither PenaVega or Sabara provide the voices for their characters.
Alexa PenaVega Has Said Her Kids Don’t Like ‘Spy Kids’
PenaVega’s absence from the new “Spy Kids” movie may not be such a bad thing in her family. During Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas premiere event in 2022, she told E! News that her kids — sons Ocean, 6, and Kingston, 4, and daughter Rio, 2 — don’t like the “Spy Kids” movie and wish that she had starred in a different Rodriguez-directed movie, 2005’s “SharkBoy and LavaGirl,” which starred kid actors Taylor Lautner and Taylor Dooley.
“Everybody thinks I was Lavagirl,” she said. “I was not Lavagirl, but my kids only watch “Sharkboy and Lavagirl. They don’t like ‘Spy Kids.'”
PenaVega added, “Kingston keeps telling me that I should have been Lavagirl. “I love Taylor, so I literally text her that all the time. I’m like, ‘Girl, my kids like you better than they like me, and I don’t know what to do about it!'”
Though her own family may not love her “Spy Kids” movies, PenaVega has said in the past that she had remained close with her “Spy Kids” cast and crew over the years, calling them a “small little family” and that the set was always fun for her.
“They wanted us to be kids,” Alexa told People in 2020. “So on our lunch breaks, we would all go out in the field and we’d be looking for scorpions and lizards and crazy things because we were shooting at these abandoned airport hangars.”
She told the magazine that she will always consider Sabara her “bro-bro.”
“When we were filming those movies, we really were like brother and sister,” she said. “And we would fight so much just like brother and sister. And now that we’re older, we get along super well. There’s so much love. He’ll be my bro-bro forever. And there were so many people on those projects, from the crew members to other actors, that are lifelong, just because we worked together so much and for so many years.”
The PenaVegas starred in the August Hallmark movie “Never Too Late to Celebrate,” but aren’t featured in any of the network’s Christmas movies this year. They just released their second book, “Love is the Point.”