Franchise Opportunities: Why Rebecca Ferguson Should Inherit Mission: Impossible

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Considering the franchise-best box office that Mission: Impossible — Fallout earned in its opening weekend (not to mention all the critical praise, including my own), it’s unlikely that Paramount or Tom Cruise are angling to wrap up the series anytime soon. And why should they? Against all odds, the Mission: Impossible franchise appears to be getting only better with age, and at least for the time being, Cruise seems perfectly capable of continuing to perform the death-defying stunts that are part and parcel of Ethan Hunt’s lifestyle.

However, as much as fans and Cruise himself may want to keep the series going indefinitely, the ravages of time are bound to force a conclusion one way or another. Whether that happens as the result of a creative choice, because Cruise is no longer up for the physical demands of these films or due to declining box office totals, the Mission: Impossible series — at least in its current state — can’t go on forever. That said, the series go very well continue by embracing one of its key supporting players and essentially becoming its own spinoff series. Here’s why Rebecca Ferguson should take over when the time is right.

Rebecca Ferguson deserves her own franchise

Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible

While Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and company have longer histories with the Mission: Impossible series, none of those actors nor their characters are really suited to lead the franchise after Cruise’s departure. However, Ferguson has the blend of charisma, vulnerability and strength that makes hers a compelling character we would follow anywhere. Not only does the actress have the acting chops to humanize the films in the face of all the insane action, she has also demonstrated a commitment to the fight choreography and physicality required to play Ilsa Faust, even if she has yet to risk life and limb like Cruise insists on doing. In short, get this actress her own franchise ASAP.

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Ilsa Faust is a total badass

Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

When Ilsa Faust was introduced in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, it was under the most mysterious of circumstances. However, as we soon learned, she is an elite member of MI6 and, by all accounts, equal in experience and training to Ethan himself. They face off numerous times, and with each encounter, Ilsa either bests Ethan or comes close to it. So, while she would need to come under the employ of the U.S. government, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for her to become naturalized as a U.S. citizen so that she can join the IMF.

She is already an integral part of the series

Rebecca Ferguson and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

Even though she’s only appeared in two films, Ferguson has left an indelible mark on the series. As the only leading female in more than one film, her role in Fallout breaks the streak of revolving-door leading ladies that has seen the likes of Thandie Newton, Maggie Q and Paula Patton exit the series just as soon as they’d entered. But Ilsa is different. In short order, she’s established a close personal relationship with Ethan himself as well as neatly played off of Luther (Rhames), Benji (Pegg) and other members of the ensemble. Presumably, for Ilsa to take over as the point woman of the IMF, Ethan would either retire or be killed off, and graduating Ilsa into his spot would keep Cruise a part of the series at least in spirit.

More female-led studio representation

Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible — Fallout

As alluded to above, the Mission: Impossible series hasn’t always been kind to its leading ladies, treating them more as motivators for Ethan than anything else. Yet, Christopher McQuarrie — writer/director of both Rogue Nation and Fallout — has created a character that is up to par with Ethan on multiple levels. Concurrently, the studio system is finally starting to realize that female-led franchises can turn an impressive profit simply by tapping into the underserved market that makes up roughly half the population. If the runaway success of films like Wonder Woman and Ocean’s 8 is any indication, Mission: Impossible may be positioned to lean into this trend as well, allowing for more female representation onscreen (and perhaps behind the camera).

Fallout sets her up for more adventures

Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible — Fallout

No matter how much business sense it might make to move Ferguson/Ilsa to the forefront of Mission: Impossible, it just wouldn’t work if the narrative of Fallout had written the character into a corner. Thankfully, this isn’t the case (no spoilers!), as McQuarrie leaves the door wide open for the character to continue as a supporting player or even advance into a more central role in the inevitable Mission: Impossible 7. At this point, it remains to be seen where the series will go and if McQuarrie will stay on for at least one more installment. But we’d like to think that Paramount has signed Ferguson on for more films, allowing McQuarrie or his successor to develop this fascinating character even further in subsequent adventures.


Agree or disagree with my thoughts? Comment below to let me know or chat movies with me on Twitter @crookedtable!

6 COMMENTS

  1. I totally respect your disagreement with my point. However, it is possible for a male writer to legitimately feel differently without attempting to pander to female readers. That is a loaded assumption in and of itself and reveals your own bias more than anything else.

    Moreover, I still think you’re being short-sighted in your assessment of Ilsa Faust as a character. Again, she’s acted selfishly, albeit reluctantly, in these two films because she’s been forced to by her own government, but at every turn, McQuarrie has hinted that there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

    The best thing about the M:I series’ newfound interest in continuity is that it allows characters like Ilsa to develop over the course of multiple installments, and I suspect that — if they do bring her back for another one — we’ll finally get a chance to see her unencumbered by Solomon Lane or MI6 making her act against her own will.

    Sure, the possibility of her working for IMF might start out because of her connection to Ethan, but this can be the springboard from which we learn more about who she is outside of the limited contexts in which we’ve seen her. The character has a lot of layers to explore, and Ferguson seems fully capable of the challenge. She brings a fresh energy to the team that would allow M:I to feel like a whole new franchise if Ilsa were to inherit the series as I suggest.

    I never put Ilsa on a pedestal. She does many questionable things in both Rogue Nation and Fallout, but even these she does out of desperation and fear more than anything else. Whenever she can, she acts virtuously and proves herself very much to be a hero underneath it all. Your perspective isn’t “obvious.” It’s your opinion, and the fact that you can’t fathom a reason how I could possibly see anything differently (other than feigning my position to “seem socially conscious”) is unfortunate.

    Truly, I think Ilsa is the most interesting, multifaceted supporting player we’ve gotten in this franchise, and since Ferguson’s star is on the rise (take a look at all the projects she’s recently joined), it’s not outside the realm to think that the creative team behind these films might consider putting her in an increasingly more prominent role going forward. The fact that she’s a woman has nothing to do with it.

    Is there every chance that I’m wrong and the M:I franchise never bumps Ilsa up to the lead? Absolutely. But I’d much rather take an Ilsa-led series over whatever reboot/remake approach Paramount would otherwise take when Cruise eventually steps down. The character warrants further exploration, and there’s no reason to think another adventure or two with Ethan wouldn’t put her in the ideal position to assume his role.

    I’m not going to try and sell you on that idea. It either works for you, or it doesn’t. All I’m saying is that I personally would like to see that come to pass, hence the article. Let’s just agree to disagree at this point.

  2. What exactly are you implying by saying “it speaks volumes”. Don’t tip toe around what you wanna say.

    Ilsa Faust is a great character and she kicks ass. But that doesn’t actually mean she’d be a good replacement. Yea, she helps the IMF, but not really. She’s really only helping Ethan, almost entirely for her own benefit. One, because she likes Ethan in a not so professional manner. Two, she doesn’t want to be on the run from her government anymore. Pointing these things out isn’t underestimating Ilsa. She’s just a different character from the others in the series. There’s nothing wrong with this. I never said there was. Here, you proved my point by using the “she can naturalize as a U.S. citizen” reason for an excuse to make her an IMF agent. But WHY? Why would she do that? She wouldn’t do it out of any loyalty to America. She’d do it because she wants to be close to Ethan. That’s the point I’m making here. Nothing she does screams “Senior Field Operator of the IMF”.

    This is obvious stuff I”m saying here. It’s not complicated. But you put her on a pedestal and the only reason I can say you’d do that is to get props. Because it’s popular, especially for men, to write an article like this to seem socially conscious. Maybe you’re tricking some people, but I know you’re being disingenuous. You’re not doing what you think you’re doing. You’re insulting women more than anything else.

    Like I said, if a female character takes over, it’s not gonna be Ilsa. She just wasn’t written that way, as much as you wanna claim otherwise. Now, if you wrote an article saying Ilsa should have a spin off, then I wouldn’t be responding to you like this. Because at least then, they could base the spin off around what makes sense for her character. But you didn’t write that article. You wrote this one. I’m simply not buying it.

  3. well said, im glad somebody see it like that, im hoping more stories on ilsa faust character as she is more naturally as spy or agent, i think is more interesting to see fromher point of view as she dealt with a mission, how her cool personality make a choise on a mission and stay calm rather than doin as same as ethan does,

  4. The fact that you dismissed this article so quickly as being written simply to earn a “pat on the back from women” speaks volumes. I, for one, think you’re vastly underestimating Ilsa as a character. In both films, she’s acted selfishly only because she’s been forced to. Repeatedly, she has stuck her neck out there and risked her life for Ethan and the IMF, revealing that she and Ethan are far more alike than it first appears.

    True, she’s not as daring or reckless as Ethan — who, as has been addressed numerous times, likely has a bit of a death wish — but she has stood toe-to-toe with him on multiple occasions, proving she has a similar skill set. If anything, her being less of a daredevil would make an Ilsa-led M:I naturally have a different feel and tone from Cruise’s run.

    As far as her not being American, I already addressed that. How hard would it be for a series as crazy as M:I to naturalize her as an U.S. citizen? The way Fallout ends, the film certainly implies that she’ll be sticking around and likely not far from Ethan. It’s not a stretch to think she’d be willing to join the team proper, should the franchise want to keep Ferguson around. Given the response to the character, I’d say it’s likely that she’ll reappear in M:I-7 and not working for MI6.

    Again, I’m not saying that I want Cruise to step away now, but when he does, you can bet Paramount will want to keep the series alive. Ferguson is without a doubt in the best position to take it over, as far as characters who currently exist in this universe. Until we can get any official word, all we can do is speculate. So, unless you have some inside information, your condescending comments are misplaced at best.

    Thanks for reading!

  5. This is the kind of article that is written simply for a pat on the back from women. Writing this article actually proves you have a fundamental misunderstanding of Ilsa as a character. In many ways, Ilsa is more driven by her own selfish desires than most of the characters in the IMF. She doesn’t really fit the profile to take over Ethan’s spot. Which is fine because that’s what makes her interesting and it’s what makes her interactions with Ethan compelling. But just because she’s supposedly Ethan’s equal(I personally won’t think that until she does a HALO jump and clings to the side of an airplane mid flight) doesn’t mean she’s fit for his job. Also, she’s not an American. She’s an MI6 agent and we already have an MI6 franchise. It’s called James Bond. Her professional allegiance disallows her from taking over as a senior field operator for the IMF.

    You’ve completely ignored her character traits to put her on a pedestal. A pedestal she has no point being on. So calm down, let this series run its course with Tom Cruise and maybe a female character will take over. But it won’t be Ilsa. Use your brain next time.

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