Does Ethan Hunt Have a Wife? Maybe It’s ‘Mission: Impossible’

Paramount/Everett Collection

How many wives and/or significant others has Mission: Impossible’s Ethan Hunt had over the film franchise’s history? As Ethan’s latest story – Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 — that just hit theaters July 12, we look back at the action hero’s love life. Clearly, Ethan knows having a loved one brings great risk to the individual and, ultimately, becomes his greatest liability (his kryptonite). Let’s take a quick look back at the love life of Ethan Hunt over the past 25-plus years.

1. Mission: Impossible (1996)

Infatuation: Claire (Emmanuelle Beart)

After Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was disavowed and being blamed for killing his leader Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) and other team members, he teams up with Jim’s wife and sexy colleague Claire (Emmanuelle Beart). Claire worked her charm and was able to seduce Ethan. In the end, Ethan was reminded “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” and Jim ultimately took care of Claire on his own. This was a dead end.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, Tom Cruise, Emmanuelle Beart, 1996.

Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

2. Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Infatuation: Nyah Nodoff-Hall (Thandie Newton)

Mission Impossible II, Thandie Newton

© Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

In the second film, Ethan finds himself playfully falling for professional thief Nyah Nodoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) while the two are carrying out a mission to take down Nyah’s former boyfriend Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). After Ethan convinces Nyah to get information from Ambrose, she finds herself in a near-death experience that Ethan ultimately saves her from. The film ends with the two vacationing on a beach. Nyah’s story was never resolved, as Newton turned down returning for the third film, wanting to spend more time with her family.

3. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Love Interest: Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan)

Tom Cruise and Michelle Monaghan, Mission Impossible III

Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

In one of the most hair-rising and emotional beginnings of an M:I film, we quickly learn where Ethan’s heart is when we see a slowly awakening Ethan, bound to a chair, with his nemesis Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) questioning him over where the rabbit’s foot is.  He’s given 10 seconds to tell the truth and then cameras pivot to his wife Julia “Jules” Mead (Michelle Monaghan), bound and confused with a gun pointed at her head. A tear streams down Ethan’s face as he pleads to save her. The film then jumps back in time where we get their full courtship story, where Ethan a semi-retired training officer for the IMF and is enjoying living a quiet life. Julia believes Ethan works for the Virginia Department of Transportation analyzing traffic patterns. When Ethan is called back into service to help a recruit (Keri Russell), he’s determined to bring down Owen Davian. He asks Jules for her trust and marries her in a shot-gun ceremony. That trust is somewhat short lived when Julia is kidnapped by Owen and taken to China, bu there’s no chance Ethan is going to let anyone harm her. The film ends with Julia and Ethan walking off hand-in-hand.

4. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Deceased Wife? Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan)

Michelle Monaghan, Mission Impossible III

Everett Collection

While in Croatia, Ethan fakes the death of Julia and proceeds to kill six Serbian nationalists who were linked to the crime. Ethan is sent to Rankow Prison (agreeing to be imprisoned in exchange for secrecy surrounding his wife’s fake death), where his mission now is to infiltrate the prison and gain information on the terrorist code-named Cobalt. Although Julia is now safe, Ethan needs to keep his distance causing a permanent end to their relationship. We see Julia at the end of the film, thriving with her colleagues in the medical world, as Ethan watches from afar. Their eyes lock and loving smiles are exchanged. He’s single again.

5. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Flirting: Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson)

Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise, 2015.

David James/©Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

A potential new love interest for Ethan begins in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation when Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a disavowed agent, is sent in to question Ethan while he is being held captive by terrorists in London. Not knowing who she is, Ethan is enchanted over why she helped him escape captivity and, ultimately, the two work together. “You know how to find me,” the movie ends.

6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Definitely Interested: Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson)

Former Wife:  Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT, Rebecca Ferguson, 2018.

© Paramount /Courtesy Everett Collection

Mission: Impossible – Fallout begins with Julia and Ethan on a tropical island getting married (again), with Ethan begging Julia to say no this time. It’s a nightmare, of course, and we find Ethan really in Belfast. It’s a few years later from Ethan and Faust’s (Rebecca Ferguson) last meet up and they connect on a mission in Paris. Faust saves his life again. Feeling as though Faust is somebody that he can be himself around and not have to hide his life they begin a caring relationship that has lasted up until this point in the film series. 

This film also reconnects Ethan with Julia, who is alive and well, happily working on humanitarian efforts — “exactly where she should be” — in a remote part of the world. It was a perfect closing to their relationship.

7. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

In theaters now, Ethan and Ilsa’s future is yours to uncover. No spoilers here!

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September 2022

Mission Impossible? Hardly! Check out all the great super spies of the sixties & more!

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