- There are several capable actors who can step into Tom Cruise’s shoes and continue the Mission: Impossible franchise.
- Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Hayley Atwell, and Vanessa Kirby are among the actors who have the potential to lead the series.
- Michael B. Jordan, John David Washington, Iko Uwais, and Simu Liu possess the necessary talent and star power to bring a fresh direction to the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Tom Cruise is the face of the Mission: Impossible franchise as Ethan Hunt, and his synonymity with the series makes it hard – but not impossible – to replace him after his exit. While the world was already familiar with the Mission: Impossible IP in 1996 thanks to the popular television series, it was Cruise who redefined its cinematic landscape. Driven largely by Tom Cruise’s death-defying Mission: Impossible stunts, the franchise morphed from a spy thriller to an adrenaline-pumping experience synonymous with Cruise’s unyielding commitment to the role.
While the actor has mentioned that he’ll keep making Mission: Impossible movies into his 80s, it’s realistically unlikely that he’ll continue in the role for 20 years. However, the essence of the film industry revolves around reinvention and evolution. While Cruise’s departure would certainly signal the end of an era, there exists a roster of capable actors, poised and ready to step into those shoes. Whether it’s their existing ties to the franchise, their penchant for performing their own stunts, or their raw, undeniable star power akin to Cruise, several actors have what it takes to steer the franchise in a new direction.
10 Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Renner isn’t new to the Mission: Impossible franchise, having already stepped into the high-pressure world in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. The actor plays William Brandt, a former field agent turned intelligence analyst, who evolved dramatically over the course of two movies. Brandt’s internal conflict, balancing his dedication to the team with his suspicions, added a layer of depth to the franchise. Renner is a huge movie star and though he wasn’t able to kickstart a new franchise with The Bourne Legacy, Mission: Impossible is the perfect vehicle for the actor, especially as Brandt’s whereabouts in the Mission: Impossible universe are currently unknown.
9 Rebecca Ferguson
Rebecca Ferguson’s entry into the Mission: Impossible universe was nothing short of meteoric. Portraying Ilsa Faust, the MI6 agent with allegiances as intricate as the plot twists, she quickly became an instant fan favorite. It wasn’t just her combat skills, but the duality of her character – torn between duty and personal connection – that captured audiences. Ferguson could carry the franchise on her shoulders, but there’s one huge asterisk. Faust was killed off in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, as Gabriel killed her to prove a point to Ethan. However, there are theories that Ilsa is still alive in Mission: Impossible, and she could return in Mission: Impossible 8.
8 Hayley Atwell
Hayley Atwell, with her undeniable talent and cinematic charisma, has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the film industry. Atwell was introduced into the Mission: Impossible franchise as Grace, a thief who quickly garners the attention of Ethan, and she fits in instantly. Halfway through Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Part 1, she’s already inducted into the IMF, and by the end of the movie, Grace has become an instrumental team member. While she’s one of the newest characters in the franchise, she has quickly become a prominent figure. With Atwell’s star power, she’s a likely candidate to continue the series.
7 Vanessa Kirby
From the regal halls of Buckingham Palace in The Crown to the adrenaline-charged streets in Hobbs & Shaw, Kirby brings a palpable energy to each role, and her performance as the White Widow is no different. The Widow is something of an anti-hero, switching sides depending on how it benefits her. While she skews more towards villainy given that she’s an arms dealer, the Widow has clearly shown admiration for Ethan. It’d be easy to see her switching sides, similar to how Atwell was a thief before joining the IMF. In a world of spies, covert operations, and high stakes, Kirby could be the most entertaining replacement for Ethan Hunt.
6 Paula Patton
Patton has all the hallmarks of an action star, something that became evident in 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, in which she played Jane Carter. As an IMF agent, Patton embodied the role with a combination of fierce determination and vulnerability. Jane Carter wasn’t just a side character; she was pivotal to the plot. From high-impact fight scenes to intense emotional moments, she displayed comprehensive command over her role. Unfortunately, there has been no explanation about Jane Carter’s Mission: Impossible absence. In that respect, her return as Cruise’s replacement could also tie up one of the franchise’s few loose ends.
5 Scott Adkins
In the realm of martial arts and action cinema, Scott Adkins has carved a niche for himself that few can rival. Known for his impressive stunts, impeccable martial arts skills, and on-screen charisma, Adkins has steadily risen through the ranks to establish himself as one of the most revered action-movie actors of his generation. The actor played Killa in John Wick: Chapter 4 in which he performed some truly spectacular stunt work for his scenes. While he may not have the mainstream recognition of other actors, few would be as committed to Cruise-level stunts as Adkins, which makes him one of the most exciting candidates.
4 Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan, with his immense rise in Hollywood, has developed a reputation for his versatility, charisma, and unparalleled commitment to his roles. From poignant dramas to action-packed blockbusters, Jordan’s resume boasts a depth and range that few of his contemporaries can match. Most notably, Jordan’s transformation into Adonis Creed for the boxing franchise showcased his dedication to the craft. Not only did he bring emotional depth to the character, but he also underwent a rigorous physical transformation. It’s that kind of commitment that would be required of anybody who takes over as the next Mission: Impossible protagonist.
3 John David Washington
John David Washington, in a relatively short span, has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most exciting and sought-after talents. With a perfect blend of gravitas and charm, he commands the screen with ease, and it’s evident that his acting prowess isn’t just hereditary – it’s uniquely his own. His athletic background – a former professional football player – adds another layer of suitability for physically demanding roles, such as leading the Mission: Impossible series. Also the son of Denzel Washington, the actor has charted his own path, one that’s more action-oriented with movies such as Tenet and The Creator, and Mission: Impossible could be his first true box office blockbuster.
2 Iko Uwais
In the world of martial arts cinema, few names have risen as swiftly and or as high as Iko Uwais in recent years. Hailing from Indonesia, Uwais has become the poster child for the country’s burgeoning action film industry, introducing global audiences to the brutal and mesmerizing fighting style known as Silat. Having Uwais replace Cruise could see the franchise improve in one of the few areas it’s been lacking: hand-to-hand combat. His fluidity, precision, and intensity in combat sequences make him an unparalleled force in action cinema. His breakthrough role in The Raid took the world by storm, showcasing a level of raw and visceral combat rarely seen in modern cinema.
1 Simu Liu
From his beginnings in smaller television roles to his rise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Liu has showcased a spectrum of skills that position him as a prominent figure in modern cinema. While his performance as Shang-Chi undoubtedly required a lot of painstaking stuntwork, what truly resonated with audiences was his portrayal of a complex character grappling with his heritage, identity, and destiny. Ethan Hunt has rarely been seen as vulnerable, but his replacement could explore deeper themes such as these. That, combined with Liu’s unrivaled comedy timing, makes him a perfect candidate to carry the Mission: Impossible series.