Fresh off the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, franchise star Tom Cruise is adamant that his character Ethan Hunt will never die. That type of attitude is understandable for any actor that’s been playing the same role for a long time, and Cruise has been portraying Hunt since director Brian De Palma’s original Mission: Impossible film hit theaters back in 1996.
On Hunt’s latest mission, he’s tasked with recovering plutonium cores before they are sold to extremist John Lark. After putting his team’s safety ahead of the mission, the plutonium cores are seized by what remains of Solomon Lane’s (Sean Harris) syndicate, now known as the Apostles. Hunt now must work with friend and foe to recover the plutonium cores and prevent a worldwide catastrophe. As usual, Hunt narrowly escapes death multiple times in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which makes fans question when the aging but still effective secret agent will finally hang it up for good.
During a chat with Cinema Blend, Cruise denied any possible permanent on-screen death for Ethan Hunt, saying “No, no. That will never happen. Never. Never.” For his part, Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie would like Hunt’s death to be meaningful if he were to be written out of the series:
“It’s interesting. I wouldn’t know how to do it. I wouldn’t know how to do it in a way that was satisfying. Really, what I think it all comes down to is that you can kill anybody. Any character can die, so long as they die for a reason. You give them a noble death, and I think that’s where you feel a sense of dissatisfaction, when a character dies. Was their death noble enough?”
At this point, Ethan Hunt has truly become an iconic character in modern cinema history. As far as action heroes, he’s right up there with people like James Bond and Jason Bourne. Cruise also clearly loves playing him, and judging by the huge box office returns for the film so far, audiences still love watching him work. Since Cruise is only 56, and in generally great health, there’s really no reason he couldn’t star in several more Mission: Impossible sequels before he calls it a career. With all that in mind, why would Paramount or anyone else involved want to kill Ethan off, outside of creating a shocking moment?
On the other hand, audiences have seen Hunt star in six different stories at this point. They’ve seen him struggle with loss, adjust to married life, sacrifice his marriage for the greater good, and even fight his own friends. The question now is: what’s next for the the character, and if Ethan Hunt stays around, should he start to move into the background a bit to allow other cast members to shine? Perhaps it’s time for characters like Benji (Simon Pegg) to expand and take on a larger role to try and keep the franchise fresh. Furthermore, will fans ever see the return of Jane Carter (Paula Patton) or William Brandt (Jeremy Renner)? There are many potential creative avenues for Mission: Impossible – Fallout’s producers to head down, should they choose to accept them.