'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' Almost Took Ethan Hunt Down A Much Darker Path

Right now Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in theaters, taking Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) on one of his most challenging missions yet. But this particular mission, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, almost took the death-defying IMF agent down a much darker path in a storyline that ended up going in a very different direction in the final cut.

However, in order to talk about this Mission Impossible Fallout alternate storyline, we have to dive into some major spoilers for the sequel. You've been warned!

The Hollywood Reporter recently spoke to Christopher McQuarrie and he talked about the storyline where Ethan Hunt assumes the identity of John Lark, the man who is trying to get his hands on the stolen plutonium that Ethan and his team lose at the beginning of the movie. That still happens in the movie, but the original storyline required Ethan Hunt to be a little more extreme in his portrayal of the villain, forcing him to make some dark decisions. McQuarrie explains:

"That was gonna be the plot of the whole movie: Ethan assumes the villain's identity, but looks like himself. And, he must go on convincing people that he is the villain which forces Ethan to have to do darker and more horrible things in pursuit of his aim, the first of which was breaking Lane out of prison. That was eventually going to take Ethan down a very dark path, all of which Tom really embraced, and which I pursued for a very long time."

Imagining Ethan being forced to go undercover in this way would have been quite a compelling turn, especially knowing how the IMF agent is always so dedicated to keeping the world safe, including any innocent bystanders who happen to be around when bad business goes down. So why didn't they pursue this darker version of the story? McQuarrie explained:

"In clinging to that idea, I realized that the movie was not moving forward. It was becoming more about that idea as well as much more intellectual. It was happening at the expense of all the other characters, and the movie was just getting very long before getting back to the things you're obligated to do in a Mission: Impossible. So, I let it go, and as soon as I let it go, the whole England segment of the movie came together."

As interesting as it might have been to see Ethan Hunt take these dark turns, it sounds like that would have made the latest Mission: Impossible sequel more of a psychological thriller rather than the action adventure fans have come to expect. However, these cut details could end up being used in a future Mission: Impossible movie. When asked if Ethan Hunt would have had to kill innocent people himself in this darker version of the story, McQurrie says:

"I'm going to withhold a detailed answer to that because the lesson I have learned is that anything we throw out comes back...  I will say that I wrote a scene that took Ethan to a very dark place, and when I pitched it to Tom, he said, 'Well, how about this?' Tom took the scene even darker, and I was quite surprised. I said, 'Do you really want to go there with Ethan?' Tom replied, 'If we're going to go for it, let's go for it.' So, it taught me something in terms of the boundaries of this character and the boundaries this franchise are even more limitless than I thought."

At the end of the day, we do get a piece of the struggle Ethan Hunt would have gone through if he was forced to make the choices of a villain. During the sequence where the White Widow lays out their plan for retrieving Solomon Lane in a prison transfer, Ethan imagines a scenario where he's forced to be part of an operation where unsuspecting police officers and SWAT team members are murdered. He even imagines having to pull the trigger himself before snapping out of his tragic daydream.

When it comes to Mission: Impossible movies, it ends up being more exciting to see how Ethan Hunt pulls everything off and spills as little blood as possible. It forces him into corners where he has to make crafty escapes and maneuvers to avoid being caught or captured, and it makes for a much more entertaining action adventure in the end.

For a more in-depth look into Mission: Impossible – Fallout, check out our detailed spoiler review.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in theaters everywhere now.