With 6 films now, Mission Impossible has arguably become the other biggest spy franchise. So I wonder, has Ethan Hunt become the American James Bond? Jason Bourne doesn’t really fit as the Bourne films have a defined arc that can’t really be expanded on without losing the core, dare I say it…identity? of the series. Hunt’s character and the overall workings of the MI series are fundamentally different, however, with EON’s troubles in recent (30 now?) years, MI has become a premier series in its own right? I guess, in the end, it would come down to whether or not MI can survive post-Tom Cruise. He’s been so inextricably linked to the franchise since the first film, that seeing one without him might be the equivalent of seeing Bond without Connery in 1969. On top of that, if/when Cruise retires from the role, would Hunt be recast like Bond, or Renner in The Bourne Legacy, or would Hunt himself retire and a new agent would take center stage?
Another thing, the films themselves, have more or less a very tenuous continuity. MI1 is I think referenced at one point in RN, but otherwise its never mentioned again in the series. MI2 is kind of like the ugly step child of the series and is never mentioned again, despite Anthony Hopkins being in it. MI3-Fallout almost seem like a totally unconnected series to the first 2 films. There is no M character, that was Jim Phelps in the show and in the first film he is revealed as a traitor and every subsequent film has had a new leader of the IMF, with only Alec Baldwin’s Hunley appearing in 2 films and he likely won’t be in a 3rd.
Personally, I could see Ethan Hunt being the American equivalent of James Bond. However, the 2 characters couldn’t be more different and the core of the 2 franchises are very different (Hunt is a team leader/player, whereas, until very recently, Bond has been a lone wolf). I enjoy them both, but am interested in other thoughts.
An aside, I would really like to see MI drop those stupid masks, which are strange and can be immersion breaking. Case in point: MI3 when Hunt goes to impersonate PSH’s villain (I can’t remember his name), PSH is both at least 3 inches taller and quite a bit heavier than Cruise. You’d think someone might notice that.