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|Mission: Impossible character|
Hunt, as portrayed by Tom Cruise
|First appearance||Mission: Impossible|
|Portrayed by||Tom Cruise|
|Spouse(s)||Julia "Jules" Meade Hunt|
|Relatives||Margaret Hunt (mother)
Donald Hunt (uncle)
In the first film, Hunt acts as the IMF point man for an experienced field team, led by veteran Jim Phelps, with whom he is closely bonded. While attempting to recover stolen files containing information on all IMF's field agents during a mission in Prague, the entire team, barring Hunt, is supposedly killed and the files are stolen, leaving Hunt the only suspect as he learns that the mission was a set-up to expose a mole who had been selling secrets to a Czech arms dealer. Hunt decides to steal the genuine list himself, demanding that the genuine mole be present at the exchange. He sets up a rogue team of other disavowed agents, including computer expert Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno), and Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Béart). After recovering the list, Hunt is shocked to learn that the true traitor is actually Jim Phelps himself, who was completely unhinged and had become disillusioned with his career after feeling that he had become irrelevant. Phelps faked his own death in order to frame Hunt and was working with Krieger and Claire to eliminate the team's other members. Setting up a situation where Jim's continued survival and his criminal activity is exposed to the head of IMF, Hunt kills Jim and Krieger as they attempt to escape from the train where Hunt had arranged to make the exchange. At the conclusion of the film, Hunt meets briefly with Stickell and is taking over Jim's position.
Mission: Impossible II
The second film in the series was directed by action filmmaker John Woo in 2000. In the film, Hunt is tasked with retrieving a deadly genetically engineered virus, known as "Chimera", from a rogue IMF agent, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). Hunt attempts to infiltrate Ambrose's inner circle through Ambrose's former girlfriend, Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), an accomplished thief. During their mission, Hunt and Nordoff-Hall engage in an affair that complicates the mission. At the climax, Nordoff-Hall is forced to infect herself with the last virus in order to save Hunt; with Hunt having destroyed the only other traces of the virus, she was thus able to shield Hunt until he could escape. Subsequently racing against time—the virus is incurable twenty hours after infection—Hunt manages to acquire the cure and kill Ambrose.
Mission: Impossible III
In the third film, Hunt is now a semi-retired training officer for IMF and plans a quiet life with his fiancée Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), who doesn't know about the IMF. He is called back into service to rescue a former student captured during a mission in Germany, and recovers confidential information via stolen laptop. He is forced to once again go rogue in an attempt to track down the sadistic arms dealer, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and secure a dangerous mystery item known as the 'Rabbit's Foot'. After an impromptu ceremony, Hunt and Julia are married, only for Owen, who has a double agent working within IMF, to kidnap Julia. With the help of his IMF team, (Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Maggie Q) Hunt finds the Rabbit's foot, saves his wife, and kills Owen Davian in Shanghai.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
In the fourth film, Hunt—having just escaped from a deep-cover mission in prison—and his IMF team are blamed for an attack that destroys the Kremlin, resulting in the disavowal of the entire IMF. Despite lacking their usual resources, connections, technology, and backup, their mission is to find and stop Kurt Hendricks, a former Soviet nuclear strategist who is intent on starting a nuclear war to usher in the next era of human evolution. As they chase Hendricks to Dubai and on to India, they themselves are pursued by a team of Russian agents trying to apprehend them. The team becomes increasingly fractured as individual members fight their own demons while trying to trust the others. Hunt manages to pull the team together, stop a nuclear bomb and clear the IMF of any involvement in the Kremlin attack. It is also revealed that Hunt had Julia's death faked to protect her, something only he and the Secretary of IMF knew about, giving him the pretext to infiltrate the prison his team free him from in the opening scenes.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
In the fifth film, Hunt is convinced that he can prove the existence of the Syndicate.
Aside from the four Mission: Impossible films, Ethan Hunt has appeared in the 1998 video game based on the first film and the 2003 video game Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma, voiced by Steve Blum.