Ethan Hunt (portrayed by actor Tom Cruise) is the central fictional character and protagonist from the Mission: Impossible film series.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, according to the character's dossier on the Special Edition DVD, his parents owned a farm and his father died of cancer, after which time his uncle Donald moved in to help with the farm. In the third film, which takes place ten years after the events of the first one, it was mentioned that both his parents were deceased.
In Mission: Impossible, Hunt acts as the IMF point man for an established and experienced field team, led by veteran Jim Phelps, with whom he has a particularly close bond. While attempting to recover stolen files containing information on all IMF's field agents during a mission in Prague, the entire team, barring Ethan, is killed, leaving Ethan the only suspect as he learns that the mission was a set-up to expose a potential mole who had been selling secrets to a Czech arms dealer. With no other way to clear his name, Hunt decides to steal the genuine list himself, intending to demand 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), the only other apparent survivor of the failed Prague mission, with the intention of stealing the list from CIA headquarters. Having recovered it, Ethan 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 Ethan and was working with Krieger and Claire to eliminate the other members of the team. Setting up a situation where Jim's continued survival—and hence his criminal activities—are exposed to the head of IMF, Ethan subsequently defeats and kills Jim and Krieger as they attempt to escape from the train where Ethan had arranged to make the exchange. At the conclusion of the film, Ethan meets briefly with Luther, who has become reinstated as an active agent, and contemplates resignation, but is later contacted by another agent asking if he wants another mission, thus taking over Jim's position.
In the second film in the series, Hunt is given the task of retrieving a deadly genetically engineered virus from a rogue IMF agent, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), attempting to infiltrate his 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, particularly when Nordoff-Hall is forced to infect herself with the virus in order to save Ethan; with Ethan having destroyed the only other traces of the virus, she was thus able to shield Ethan until he could escape. Subsequently racing against time - the virus is incurable twenty hours after infection, Ethan manages to acquire the cure and kill Ambrose.
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Official Site: Paramount Pictures
Links: Wikipedia (character) Wikpedia (m:i) IMDB