Top Gun 2 Can Do What Mission: Impossible Failed – Replace Tom Cruise

The Mission Impossible series was not able to replace Tom Cruise’s hero, but the long-delayed sequel Top Gun 2 has an opportunity to pull this off.

Tom Cruise is one of cinema’s few remaining blockbuster stars, and Top Gun: Maverick may be able to pull off the trick that the Mission Impossible franchise failed by replacing him in its starring role. The era of the movie star is arguably coming to a close, as sprawling cinematic universes like the MCU and DCEU render leading men and ladies comparatively irrelevant. In 2021, it is arguably more important for a movie studio to have a profitable intellectual property than a bankable star, and many projects are greenlit based not on their actors but their connection to a well-loved earlier project.

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However, a select few bonafide movie stars prove this is not always true. While the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise struggles to replace Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, Tom Cruise’s box office dominance has proven that the screen veteran is as universally appealing as ever even after decades in the spotlight. A handful of wobbles like 2017’s The Mummy reboot aside, Cruise appears perennially popular with audiences in a way that few actors are, which makes it interesting that one of his most iconic franchises now has the opportunity to replace him.

Related: Top Gun 2 Should Have Kept The Original Director’s Story Idea


At one point, the hugely successful spy series Mission Impossible seemed like it might use Hawkeye star Jeremy Renner to take the franchise forward, but this approach didn’t work out. Despite the franchise having an ensemble cast, Cruise is still the main attraction by far and Mission Impossible remains his most famous franchise much like Bourne remains Matt Damon’s best-known series (despite Renner also almost replacing him in another attempted coup). However, Top Gun: Maverick may be able to replace Cruise and continue the franchise without him, both because of his character’s risky job and attitude and because of his advancing age. By addressing Maverick growing out of his role as a test pilot in Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel has the chance to set up a successor for the protagonist and hand the reins of the franchise over to a younger star.


Mission impossible formula Top gun maverick tom cruise

The impressive cast of Top Gun: Maverick means many stars could take over the lead role in a third movie. Glen Powell’s character, Miles Teller’s troubled Rooster, or Monica Barbaro’s Phoenix would all be solid options, and Cruise could age into a mentor role in Top Gun 3, while Mission Impossible 9 would require him to keep up his action heroics. As proven by Stallone’s later, lesser Rambo sequels, action heroes can tend to look a little too goofy once their stars are a bit long in the tooth, whereas Cruise playing an older Maverick who not as hands-on could see the franchise find a way to properly end the character’s story and pass the baton on to a new generation.


After the failed attempt to make Renner Cruise’s replacement, it seems unlikely that the Mission Impossible movies will attempt to change their hero again any time soon. However, the fact that Maverick’s job as a test pilot comes with a retirement age means Top Gun: Maverick has a better shot at passing on the lead role of the series. That said, only time will tell if Top Gun: Maverick can manage to achieve what Mission Impossible could not.

More: Goose Will Be One of Top Gun 2’s Most Important Characters

  • Mission: Impossible 7 (2022)Release date: Sep 30, 2022
  • Mission: Impossible 8 (2023)Release date: Jul 07, 2023
  • Top Gun: Maverick/Top Gun 2 (2022)Release date: May 27, 2022

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Top Gun 2 Can Do What Mission: Impossible Failed – Replace Tom Cruise

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