A big deal was made about the departure of Michelle Monaghan's Julia when Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol seemingly wrote the character out in order for her to lead a peaceful life. Unfortunately for those involved with the franchise, that didn't put the issue to bed as some would have hoped. Luckily, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie was able to reintegrate the character into Mission: Impossible - Fallout, thanks to the following process:
Day one. First thing I said to Tom, 'What do you want to do? If you can do one thing in this movie?' And he said, 'People are still asking me about Julia, and I want to give that story closure.' And I said, 'We can do it, but it can't be a detour in the movie.' Like, you know, after the opening of the movie he goes to see Julia, and they have like a ... that'll just get cut out of the film, I've made a Mission already, and knew what survived. Every scene in a Mission movie has to fight for its right to be there.
Knowing the inner workings of McQuarrie's editing style, the revelation that he made Tom Cruise really work to bring Monaghan back as a Mission: Impossible cast member makes all the more sense. Recent interviews with Collider, including this very one, have shed light into what made it into Mission: Impossible - Fallout, and what didn't. So while we lost a scene of Vanessa Kirby's White Widow singing in a nightclub, we gained a long awaited piece of closure to Mission: Impossible lore.
Introduced in Mission: Impossible III, Julia Meade eventually became Julia Meade-Hunt, as she married Ethan in a quickie ceremony during the mission that saw him chasing down arms dealer Owen Davian and the fabled Rabbit's Foot. It wasn't meant to be though, as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol saw the couple splitting up, complete with a faked death and new identity for Julia. So through all of this trouble of coupling the characters, and splitting them apart, seeing Ethan and Julia together again needed some vital story work.
Christopher McQuarrie, no stranger to such work in the Mission: Impossible franchise, had some prerequisites that needed to be made in order to make Julia's appearance in Mission: Impossible - Fallout work to the film's advantage. That criteria was laid out thusly, by McQuarrie:
So I said, we gotta bake it in, and as such, here's how the movie opens, and here's how the movie closes, and the end, there must then be a scene somewhere in the movie where Luther tells the story to Ilsa, because you've got to reintroduce the idea of Julia. So Julia's story was the very first conversation we had, and it was the backbone of the movie.
In the end, all of the work done to include Julia and her new husband, played by Wes Bentley, in Mission: Impossible - Fallout was well worth the time and effort. The story of Ethan and Julia is now properly closed, with Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa potentially being Ethan's next romantic interest. More importantly, it allowed the audience who always wanted to see Michelle Monaghan return get to see her receive the proper resolution she deserved.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout will hit 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD on December 4.