Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol almost had an entirely different ending, which may not have sat too well with fans. In a new interview with Light the Fuse, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie explained how the fourth M:I installment could have been dramatically different if he didn’t come along to do the rewrites.
According to his interview with Light the Fuse, McQuarrie came to the project about halfway through filming and saw some drastic measures needed to take place. Before he came along, Julia (Ethan Hunt’s wife) was going to be dead. For the entire movie, you’re led to believe she actually is dead, but viewers found out at the end of the movie it was all a ruse to actually protect her.
IMF agent William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) felt responsible for the death of Julia, as he was assigned to protect her and Ethan in secret, but inevitably found out she was killed while he had abandoned his post. After the big reveal at the end of the movie, Ethan let Brandt know he knew all along. He knew that if he and Julia were together, she would never be safe.
So if Julia actually had died, fans would have been more than upset, to say the least. Moviegoers were introduced to Julia in Mission: Impossible 3 when she did almost lose her life, but, as always, Ethan came to the rescue and the rest is history. McQuarrie shared the same sentiment as fans.
“When I read the script, the big things were, you didn’t know what was in the suitcase, you didn’t know what was in the envelope, you didn’t know what the villain was doing — this was all a mystery in the movie — and Michelle Monaghan was dead, Julia’s character was really dead. I came on board and I said, ‘Look, there are two things going on. One, emotionally if Julia’s dead, no matter how this story turns out, I’m sad.'”
Keeping Julia alive also drastically changed the relationship between Ethan and Brandt in the end. McQuarrie felt if Julia was dead, that the two agents would be living in two different storylines and wouldn’t really connect with one another even though they were related.
“I said, first of all, let’s try to integrate Tom’s story with Jeremy’s story so that Jeremy’s story is actually relevant to the movie, right now it feels like there are two movies happening. And again, no matter how you resolve Jeremy’s story, even at a hundred you were at ninety because he still hesitated and these two guys were still dead. Whereas, if we integrate the stories to say that Jeremy feels responsible for the death of Julia and at the end of the story we found out Julia’s not dead and Jeremy finds out that Julia’s not dead, you get to use that emotional engine, but then you get to let the audience off the hook at the end of it.”
Christopher McQuarrie details his 'Ghost Protocol' rewrites + how he changed the film's ending. https://t.co/NwOT4oIDkW— Collider (@Collider) January 1, 2019
The change obviously sat well with fans because Ghost Protocol absolutely dominated the box office and rebooted the Mission: Impossible franchise impressively. Tom Cruise was so thrilled with the new direction of Ghost Protocol that he brought his new friend on to direct the following two installments: Rogue Nation and Fallout.