Tom Cruise has been one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood almost since the day he came on the scene. However, the actor was somewhat unique in that he achieved that level of popularity despite not being involved in a major movie franchise for years. It wasn't until 2000 that Mission: Impossible 2 came along and Cruise starred in his first sequel. The actor admits that he actively avoided making sequels for a long time, but that changed with Mission: Impossible, and it's likely that without that series of films we never would have seen a sequel to Top Gun.
In a bonus feature attached to the 25th anniversary Blu-ray release of the first Mission: Impossible movie (via ET), Tom Cruise sits down with director Christopher McQuarrie for an interview. Cruise says that he avoided doing sequels for a long time because he didn't usually see a place for the story to go after the movie was over. He specifically mentions fans interest in seeing a sequel to Top Gun, but says he just didn't know where to take it. But in the case of Mission: Impossible, he found a way to make sequels more creatively interesting for himself by bringing in different directors to helm each installment. According to Cruise...
It’s a challenge for me. It’s a logistical challenge, it’s an artistic challenge. We’re working on the highest level actually because you have practical action. And how do we develop these stories, how do we develop these characters? What is the dialogue going to be with the audience? I make movies for audiences so I want to know what is their response going to be? How can I improve it, how can I make it better? How will these stories evolve? And then I kind of came up with the idea of different directors for each one.
The Mission: Impossible franchise has been somewhat unique among modern movie series for the way it has used directors. Most movies do their best to keep everybody involved in previous installments as a way to best replicate whatever worked previously, but Mission: Impossible has been about finding new ways to do things with each film. It's only been recently when Christopher McQuarrie came on board that the movies have seen the same director make more than one movie.
Tom Cruise apparently saw the challenge of making the sequels work in a positive light, something that would be creatively interesting for him to find a solution to, rather than a difficulty to be avoided. And now we're going to find ourselves with at least eight Mission: Impossible movies as two of them are in production right now.
Considering that Tom Cruise specifically says that he had little interest in making a sequel to Top Gun, and now we're actually getting a sequel in Top Gun: Maverick, it's a safe bet that we probably wouldn't have that movie on the way if it weren't for Mission: Impossible. Yet another reason to love that franchise.