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Mission: Impossible Must Copy Tom Cruise’s $1.4 Billion Hit To Properly Replace Ethan Hunt

WARNING: SPOILERS ahead for Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning.
Summary Mission: Impossible 8’s delay to 2025 allows the franchise to plan for a future without Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.
The film could introduce new characters to eventually replace Cruise and ensure the franchise’s longevity.
Hayley Atwell’s Grace character is a potential candidate to take over as the franchise lead, but Mission: Impossible may need a star with more established action credentials.
With Mission: Impossible 8 being delayed to 2025, there could be more time for the celebrated action franchise to figure out its future without Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. While Cruise’s incredible passion for his action franchises Mission: Impossible and Top Gun remains essentially unmatched in today’s Hollywood, the larger-than-life actor will eventually be forced to part ways with his leading man stunt-heavy status in due time. Cruise, now 61 years old, can’t realistically be jumping off cliffs on motorbikes or hanging onto the sides of planes in his 70s, even though he has shown no signs of slowing down his momentum.
Tom Cruise is slated to star in at least one more Mission: Impossible movie, which was retitled from Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One to an unknown title. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning brought back some of the elements of the original 1996 action thriller while also laying the foundation for a climactic full-circle finish in Mission: Impossible 8. It seems like a Mission: Impossible movie couldn’t exist without Cruise’s iconic Ethan Hunt character at the forefront, but Mission: Impossible 8 may establish a changing of the guard to ensure the continued longevity of the celebrated action franchise.
Related All 9 Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Stunts & Fight Scenes, Ranked Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is full of incredible stunts and fantastic fight scenes, and here are all of them ranked.
Top Gun: Maverick Is The Blueprint For Mission: Impossible To Replace Tom Cruise
Maverick introduced Rooster and Hangman as possible replacements
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Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise could follow a similar blueprint to Top Gun: Maverick by introducing its new potential franchise leads in Mission: Impossible 8. While Top Gun: Maverick was still very much about Cruise’s iconic Maverick character, the blockbuster movie simultaneously brought in Rooster and Hangman as possible replacements to take over the franchise without Cruise in the lead role. Mission Impossible could follow this strategy in order to make the transition from Cruise’s Ethan Hunt to another protagonist very smooth and natural, an approach that could have already worked with several previous Mission: Impossible supporting cast members.
Hypothetically speaking, just because Ethan Hunt or Maverick aren’t the only main protagonists in the next Mission: Impossible and Top Gun movies, respectively, does not mean that Cruise can’t have major oversight and influence on his beloved franchises in other ways. Over time, Cruise will naturally pump the brakes on his remarkable appetite for doing his own stunts, which will likely finally happen when his body cannot physically match the level of his ambitious visions for the film. When that day comes, Cruise will be forced to pass the baton to new leading actors, but can still use his creative abilities and continue to shape his two major franchises.
Related Mission: Impossible 8 Can Beat Maverick With A New Tom Cruise Stunt Before Top Gun 3 The upcoming Mission: Impossible 8 could see Tom Cruise once again in a fighter jet, and the stunt could totally raise the bar for Top Gun 3.
Mission: Impossible Hasn’t Properly Introduced A Tom Cruise Replacement (Yet)
Rebecca Ferguson could’ve been it, but Ilsa’s death makes that impossible
Back in 2011 with the release of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jeremy Renner seemed poised to take over for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Renner made his last appearance as William Brandt in 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but has essentially disappeared from the franchise since, failing to appear in 2018’s Fallout and 2023’s Dead Reckoning. Renner, now 53 and likely exhausted from action franchises, was also teased to take over the Bourne franchise from Matt Doman with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, a prospect that also never came to fruition.
Prior to her surprising death in Dead Reckoning, Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust could have been the best available candidate to take over for Ethan Hunt but that option is now an impossibility. Henry Cavill, who starred in Fallout alongside Cruise, would have also been a natural option before his character betrayal of Ethan Hunt and subsequent death, which also writes him out of the picture. With virtually no other supporting characters that could take over for Ethan Hunt in future installments of the Mission: Impossible franchise, the 2025 film would be wise to introduce a new, highly viable Cruise replacement.
Related Dead Reckoning Kills Every Mission: Impossible 8 Returning Character Theory Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 kills every theory about Mission: Impossible 8’s returning characters thanks to Ethan’s story.
Mission: Impossible 8 Could Set Up The Franchise’s Tom Cruise Replacement
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As it currently stands, Hayley Atwell’s Grace character is the best option to take the reins from Ethan Hunt as the franchise lead. Atwell has been celebrated for her role as Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and would certainly be a recognizable name to lead the Mission: Impossible franchise. However, filling the massive shoes of Tom Cruise as the franchise’s first honest protagonist replacement is no easy feat and may be better suited to an action star with a more established footing. If Mission: Impossible 8 introduces a new supporting character with franchise-leading potential, it may be pointing to the end of the Tom Cruise-Ethan Hunt era that has nearly spanned three decades.

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