Ever since it was revealed that Mission: Impossible 7 is bringing back Henry Czerny’s Eugene Kittridge, the Tom Cruise-led franchise seems to be hinting that Ethan Hunt’s past will further define his future. With such an exercise supposedly taking form over the course of the next two installments of Paramount’s blockbuster franchise, it leaves the door open for several other returns that we’d love to see for various actors who’ve helped make Mission: Impossible a compelling and fun espionage franchise. And who better to kick off this wishlist of returning IMF agents and all folks adjacent than the sadly not returning Angela Bassett.
Angela Bassett (CIA Director Erika Sloane)
After the death of IMF secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), the mantle of IMF Secretary felt primed to be handed over to Angela Bassett’s CIA Director Erika Sloane. Her addition to the cast in Mission: Impossible - Fallout was supposed to carry over to Mission: Impossible 7, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bassett’s return was sadly not possible this time out. Much as Angela Bassett herself hopes to be able to rejoin the team in Mission: Impossible 8, we too hope that she can accept the next mission since she’s already chosen to do so.
Jeremy Renner (William Brandt)
There was once at time that Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt was being eyed as the new lead of the franchise after his arrival in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. While that never happened, Renner’s character was retained for the following sequel, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, and was presumed to be a part of the team going forward. That was, until Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame came into the picture, prohibiting Jeremy Renner from returning in Fallout. Maybe, just maybe, depending on what his Hawkeye schedule looks like in the future, Renner will be humming the Mission: Impossible theme tune in celebration of his potential return.
Thandiwe Newton (Nyah Nordoff Hall)
An accomplice to Ethan Hunt’s IMF Team in Mission: Impossible 2, Thandiwe Newton’s Nyah Nordoff-Hall was an accomplished jewel thief who literally put her life on the line for the survival of the planet. And after those heroic deeds, there was never an offer for Westworld star to return in Mission: Impossible III. While the experience was intense, to say the least, after Ms. Newton’s new calling card arrived in the form of her huge action sequence in this summer’s Reminiscence, the thought of Nyah returning as an IMF agent with her own mythic legacy is the stuff that sequels are made of.
Anthony Hopkins (Mission Commander Swanbeck)
If you’re playing an IMF commander that gives Ethan Hunt his Mission: Impossible orders, chances are you’re either cannon fodder without a proper name (like Tom Wilkinson in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) or you just don’t reappear, like Mission: Impossible 2’s Mission Commander Swanbeck. Played by Academy Award-winner Anthony Hopkins, this elusive figure bookends the film’s plot, but has never been heard from since meeting with Ethan and Nyah in Sydney. If Henry Czerny is coming back after intensely locking horns with Tom Cruise’s IMF super agent, then maybe it’s time to bring back the most paternal IMF superior Ethan has ever served under.
Maggie Q (Zhen Lei)
While Rebecca Ferguson’s IMF ally Ilsa Faust is an absolute breath of fresh air when it comes to keeping Mission: Impossible alive and well, her casting came from two members of the team that sadly couldn’t return. One such figure was Zhen Lei, Maggie Q’s Mission: Impossible III operative, who sadly found herself sidelined twice due to contractual obligations. But the door is still open, and Maggie Q’s only upped her action game since working alongside the rest of Tom Cruise’s team of agents. Perhaps some day, Zhen can make her big Mission: Impossible return by dropping into a room from the end of a fire hose, delivering a witty one-liner to stop the room in its tracks.
Paula Patton (Jane Carter)
The other Mission: Impossible actor that sort of paved the way for Rebecca Ferguson to join up is none other than Paula Patton from Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. With Maggie Q’s Zhen Lei unavailable for service, the vengeful Jane Carter was introduced, with Patton playing the part. And, as is often the case in this series, when Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation came calling, Paula Patton sadly had to pass. Though Jane may have gotten her revenge on her lover’s murderer, that probably doesn’t quench her passion for action in the name of peace.
Laurence Fishburne (IMF Director Theodore Brassel)
Again, if you’re a superior at the IMF, your odds of returning in another Mission: Impossible caper do tend to diminish. But if there’s one example we have to single out in terms of authority figures we’d love to see back in Mission: Impossible 8, besides Angela Bassett’s Erika Sloane, of course, it’s Laurence Fishburne’s IMF Director Theodore Brassel. A mixture of the paternal nature of Commander Swanbeck, as well as the adversarial “by the book” nature of Kittridge before him, Director Brassel was one of the most fun superiors to see Ethan Hunt play cat and mouse with. The Matrix may not have him right now, but the Mission: Impossible series should try and grab Mr. Fishburne for a dramatic return as soon as humanly possible.
The past history of the Mission: Impossible franchise has left tons of opportunities for people to return to this massive pop culture touchstone. Just as Tom Cruise will keep upping the ante with his stunt work, at least for the foreseeable future, the plot of the IMF’s international legacy will always have the chance to raise the stakes. Which is only a better case for drawing as many of these talented stars back into the game.
Of course, Mission: Impossible 7 is the current priority, with its newly locked release date of September 30, 2022. Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible 8 is currently set for release, blimp or no blimp, on July 7, 2023; but naturally that could change as well. What shouldn’t change too much is the 2021 release schedule, except, of course, for a couple minor shifts here and there. Though you should probably head over there soon, as this feature may or may not self-destruct in five seconds.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.