Is Ethan Hunt the American James Bond?


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.


You gave the answer to your own question here.


Well I guess my question is Ethan Hunt the closest we’d get to an American equivalent of James Bond because Jason Bourne is actually much more of an American James Bond, but the way the Bourne stories work, it’s very much it’s own self-contained story. Hunt’s story allows for more random missions like the Bond franchise.


My take: James Bond is unique. Sure, he is a spy who has become an action hero. But his particular suaveness, his special mix of British snobbery and defiance of an authority he nevertheless serves are something that does not have its equal in any fiction.

Ethan Hunt bears the weight of saving the world on his shoulders while constantly doubted and sabotaged by his superiors. But he relies on his team which is also like a circle of friends, the only kind of family he can allow himself to have.

Jason Bourne is a lone assassin who is mainly focused on his own tragic story of being abandoned and manipulated into thinking he was not a brute killer.

One could contemplate whether those setups and idiosyncrasies make Hunt or Bourne typical American heroes. But they can never be like James Bond, simply because they are not made to be like him.


Imo they’ve very different MOs. But essentially Bond’s a loner, whereas Ethan’s a team player; i think they’re diametrically opposed in this regard.

If we’re looking for comparisons, then off the top of my head i’d say Matt Helm is the nearest. Helm is generally played for laughs (to perfection by Dean Martin) and probably sits somewhere between Bond and Austin Powers. But if they ever did a serious reboot (i think it was considered at some point), then Government sanctioned seducer and killer, Helm would be a US Bond.

Here’s the Wiki description:

He is a U.S. government counter-agent—a man whose primary job is to kill or nullify enemy agents—not a spy or secret agent in the ordinary sense of the term as used in spy thrillers.

Take out the 'U.S. and that could be Bond.

I’d pay to see Craig deliver the trailer like this :rofl:

Another American character that bears a passing resemblance to Bond is Eastwood’s hilariously named Jonathon Hemlock, from the The Eiger Sanction.

Despite the silly name it’s an under appreciated gem of a movie, directed in his usual business like, unpretentious style. It’s kind of a who done it espionage thriller with the mountain serving as an awesome provider of jeopardy.

Of course we never see Eastwood in a tux, but nevertheless his cool, seductive charisma and ruthless physicality is a match for Connery. I want to watch it again after all that!

1 Like