While several characters in the "Mission: Impossible" films are taken from the original 1960s TV show, Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt was created specifically for America's movie star extraordinaire. Hunt's M.O. is that he doesn't stop ... ever. The unflappable IMF super-agent will do whatever it takes to stop a madman from unleashing warfare, be it chemical, nuclear, or other.
Who could possibly go head-to-head with such a deadly adversary? We chose New York-based actor, writer and Gen-X slacker icon Ethan Hawke, not so much because he has the necessary skills to beat someone of Hunt's caliber, but because their names are kinda similar.
On the eve of the "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" release, find out who comes out on top in this battle of monumental proportions.
Ethan Hunt: Agent of the elite Impossible Mission Force (IMF)
Ethan Hawke: Actor, director, screenwriter and novelist
Advantage: Hawke, partly owing to the breadth and diversity of his work, but mostly because he's an actual, living person.
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Ethan Hunt: Gets into literally countless shoot-outs, scuffles, brawls and chases over the course of four high-octane "Mission: Impossible" flicks.
Ethan Hawke: Dealt out a fair amount of punishment in "Training Day," "Assault on Precinct 13," "What Doesn't Kill You" and "Daybreakers," not to mention that rumored fistfight between him and Will Smith at the Oscars in 2002.
Advantage: Hunt. Did we mention he has his own theme song?
Ethan Hunt: Julia Mead (Michelle Monaghan)
Ethan Hawke: Uma Thurman, Ryan Shawhughes
Advantage: You bet it's Hawke. While Monaghan has her charms, she's no match for the living goddess that is Uma. Cost of divorce? Hard to say. Bagging your kids' nanny? Priceless.
Exotic Passport Stamps
Ethan Hunt: Prague, London, Spain, Australia, Berlin, Vatican City, China, Russia, Dubai, Mumbai
Ethan Hawke: France ("A Midnight Clear"), South America ("Alive"), Vienna ("Before Sunrise"), Paris ("Before Sunset"), South Africa ("Lord of War")
Advantage: Oh Ethan Hunt, you big globetrotter, you.
Ethan Hunt: Electrocuted to deactivate the micro-explosive in his head, briefly dies, then is revived
Ethan Hawke: Eating human flesh in "Alive"
Advantage: Totally Hunt -- everything in that bullet point is cool. Also, chowing down on your dead crewmates is kinda gross, Ethan Hawke.
Modes of Transport
Ethan Hunt: TGV railcar, motorcycle, motor boat, BMW Vision EfficientDynamics
Ethan Hawke: Train ("Before Sunrise," "The Newton Boys"), spaceship ("Explorers," "Gattaca"), 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo ("Training Day"), Staten Island Ferry ("Staten Island")
Advantage: Hunt. While we'll always have fond memories of the jerry-built spacecraft Thunder Road in "Explorers," it's no match for that BMW concept car, which also looks like it can leave the Earth's atmosphere.
Ethan Hunt: Full-on nuclear (every "Mission: Impossible" movie)
Ethan Hawke: Righteous indignation ("Training Day")
Advantage: As Hunt tells IMF Director Eugene Kittridge in the first "Mission: Impossible," "You've never seen me very upset."
Ethan Hunt: Ving Rhames, Jean Reno, Emmanuelle Béart, Thandie Newton, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner
Ethan Hawke: River Phoenix, Robin Williams, Winona Ryder, Julie Delpy, Matthew McConaughey, Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne and White Fang
Advantage: Even though it's spread out over a whole filmography, gotta give it to Hawke if for no other reason than that sounds like the most insane covert ops team of all time.
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Ethan Hunt: Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird
Ethan Hawke: Peter Weir, Richard Linklater, Alfonso Cuarón, Sidney Lumet
Advantage: Draw. Both Ethans have gotten the chance to work with some truly amazing directors. 'Nuf said.
And the Winner is ...
Ethan Hunt by a margin of 6-to-4. What did you expect? That guy NEVER loses. Mad props to Hawke for putting up a helluva fight, though. Perhaps it's for the best, since a bruise to Hawke's ego means he probably goes home and writes a play about it, whereas Hunt might actually blow something up.