It’s almost hard to believe, but Tom Cruise has been playing Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible franchise for over 25 years. The series of films is still going strong, with two more movies in different states of production at the same time, but as fans may have already suspected, Mission: Impossible 8 is looking to be the last adventure for Ethan Hunt.
Mission: Impossible was certainly looking to make things even bigger when two movies were greenlit together and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie began putting together a story that would cover both movies. It certainly felt like the franchise was gearing up for a big finale, but nothing was actually said that confirmed that was the case. Now, however, Variety is saying the two movies are meant to “serve as a sendoff for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character.”
It’s perhaps not too surprising that this might be the case. When Mission: Impossible 8 opens, which is currently set to take place in 2024, though it has already had to deal with multiple pandemic delays, Tom Cruise will have been playing Ethan Hunt for nearly three decades, and even the seemingly immortal Tom Cruise can’t do that forever. At some point these movies were going to end.
Having said that, the story is also very clear that the plan here is to sendoff the character of Ethan Hunt, not necessarily to wrap up the film series in its entirety. We could very easily see more Mission: Impossible movies that simply follow a new character. Or we could even see the rest of the IMF team that has been consistent within the last few movies, including Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, continue on without Ethan Hunt.
There was a point when some thought that Jeremy Renner might be getting geared up to take over the series, or perhaps get his own spinoff, but Tom Cruise never left and Renner moved on to become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and make his franchise stamp there.
We could see an existing character, like Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa become the new focus of the series. Or we could see a new character get introduced in the next two movies with the plan that they’ll take over as the lead.
But there’s also the possibility that while there may be more Mission: Impossible movies in the future, they won’t be connected to these. Hollywood is never shy when it comes to rebooting things, so Mission: Impossible 8 could be the end of this particular franchise, with something entirely new starting over in a few years with entirely new characters, not necessarily connected to the existing universe.
Of course anything could happen. The studio has never confirmed this is the end for Cruise. And even if that is the current plan, plans change.
Whatever the future holds, this will only get fans more pumped for what is to come. The expectations for Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 were already high, but knowing they will be the end for Tom Cruise means they will expect all the stops to be pulled out. One thing that we do know about the end, however, is that Tom Cruise will do something crazy, and Ethan Hunt will live.
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