Mission Impossible Is A Prime Example Of What Blockbuster Franchises Should Be

The review embargo has lifted, and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One seems to be another critical darling for the franchise. Despite this being the seventh film, there’s still excitement and buzz for Tom Cruise‘s latest installment. The Mission Impossible series has been a surprising stable for the modern generation. 

Blockbuster franchises are in somewhat of a dire state right now. Though the sky isn’t falling for big blockbuster features, it’s hard not to notice the financial decline. Some of the victims — Fast X, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. So why does the Mission Impossible series keep getting better critically and financially with each film? It’s a high-level brand that exemplifies what to do in order to maintain popularity in the mainstream media.

The Death Defying Action

Mission Impossible

It’s safe to say that most people never buy the notion that Ethan Hunt will die in a respective Mission Impossible film. No one expects him to die in Dead Reckoning because it’s the first of a two-part saga. That could easily be the death knell of any franchise because the stakes are instantly lost. How can audiences invest in a series when the stakes feel predictable?

Somehow, Tom Cruise has surpassed this feeling due to the death-defying stunts in each of his films. With each entry, the action becomes bolder and bigger. The same can be said for the Fast franchise. But the parallels between the two franchises are significantly different. The Fast series has become a cartoon parody of itself. The characters feel impossibly invincible, and the stunts are so over-the-top that it’s hard to buy them as real.

Mission Impossible‘s stunts never feel that they cross that line. Every time Ethan gets into a seemingly impossible predicament, audiences are on the edge of their seats, clamoring over how he’ll get out of the dangerous situation. The action is so original that people are in awe when they see it and forget that Hunt is more than likely to escape.

The Expansion Of The World


The Mission Impossible series does feel like James Bond or Kingsman. Though a spy/espionage film is nothing new in 2023, the world that Cruise set up grows consistently in unique and fun ways. The characters aren’t wildly crazy or even, in some cases, memorable. But it’s about the direction the series takes its audience on.

Nothing else currently feels like a Mission Impossible movie. The wild stunts. Ethan Hunt and his misfit team. Even the thrilling and ever-evolving espionage world that MI established over a decade ago. The true factor here is the characters. The viewers care about Ethan Hunt and his next mission because the writers have done such a masterful job of adding a level of dimension to his character in each film.

We also care about Benji, Luther, and Grace. These men and women feel like real human beings, even though their survival factor is higher than normal humans. The Mission Impossible series feels organic, and the unpredictable and chaotic nature of most aspects helps prevent the film from being stale.

The Diversity

Mission Impossible

The diversity here doesn’t mean different races within the series. It refers to the different cultures and characters that have played a part in the franchise from the beginning. August Walker (Henry Cavill) feels different from Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist). The same thing can be said about the core cast and the foes that they face. This importance amongst the cast is vital because it makes the world feel big and creates a layer of suspense due to the unpredictability of new characters.

Going back to Fast X, Dante (Jason Momoa) comes off as stale because he’s the same villain as always. Sure, his characteristics are different from Jakob or Luke Hobbs, but his objective and actions are mostly the same. There’s guaranteed to be some racing between the villains and Dom. There’s always an incentive to kill him and his family.

When the characters lack dimension and share the same motivations, each film seems copy-and-paste. Even with the Transformers reboot, the decision to focus on a new human who happens to accidentally find another transformer in the midst of an ongoing battle doesn’t feel any different than the entries in the past.

This isn’t to say that the objectives of past MI villains were wholly different from one another. In fact, Ethan’s mission is always to stop the bad guy from succeeding. However, the motivations for doing so aren’t always about Ethan or even taking over the world. The mystery keeps audiences from instantly guessing every single move and maintains a high level of suspense that’s necessary for the genre as a whole.

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