Top Gun may very well be Tom Cruise’s most iconic movie, but over the past couple of decades and change, it hasn’t been his turn as Maverick that’s kept him on the big screen. No, the popular franchise that keeps churning out hit after hit for Cruise is the revival of Mission: Impossible. Originally a popular television series from the late ’60s and early-mid ’70s, Cruise and costars like Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg have transformed it into a thriving spy action film series. But apparently, Cruise’s involvement in that is coming to an end.
In a story published on Tuesday about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the budget of the upcoming Mission: Impossible 7, Variety slipped in a report from an unnamed insider who says Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 have been written to act as the swan song for Tom Cruise’s hero, Ethan Hunt. This is part of the reason why the two sequels were originally scheduled to be filmed back-to-back, though fate apparently had different plans in store. Variety further reports that production is about get underway for Mission: Impossible 8 in South Africa.
It probably shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that Tom Cruise is leaving the action spy series behind. When the first Mission: Impossible film hit theaters in the summer of 1996, Cruise was in his mid-thirties. This summer, the Rain Man star will turn 60. If you know anything about Cruise’s work in movies involving any level of action, you know the guy likes doing his own stunts. For example, last November photos leaked of the actor on the wing of a flying plane while performing a stunt. For a guy at the footsteps of his sixties, that’s either insane, impressive, or a little bit of both, but regardless you can only do that stuff for so long before your primary physician loses it on you.
Sadly, assuming Variety’s report about Tom Cruise leaving Ethan Hunt behind for good is accurate, we won’t even get to see part one of his two-part farewell for over a year. Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 have been delayed so many times, we should probably just start calling them New Mutants. Cruise’s send-off films were originally scheduled to hit the big screen in July 2021 and August 2022 respectively. They’ve both since been delayed four times, with the latest setback pushing them to July 14, 2o23 and June 28, 2024.
While Tom Cruise may be leaving Mission: Impossible behind, he apparently isn’t completely abandoning the idea of pushing his physical limits. Last month, we learned that one upcoming, untitled Tom Cruise project will, at least in part, be filmed in orbit. Space Entertainment Enterprise and Axiom Space are partnering to build a studio in orbit, so Cruise and any other cast and crew can film scenes in zero gravity. It seems like a bit of a risky venture to make a movie, but hey — maybe Cruise can ask William Shatner for tips.
Though Mission: Impossible is Tom Cruise’s biggest franchise, there are reports that he may be joining another one soon. Rumors persist — and will likely continue to persist until the flick hits theaters if the lead-up to Spider-Man: No Way Home is any judge — that Cruise will play a variant version of Tony Stark aka Iron Man in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Cruise was offered the role before Robert Downey Jr. and turned it down, so his appearance would presumably be a nod to that little piece of trivia.