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4 Mission Impossible 7 Masks & Which Characters Wear Them

Aug 20, 2023Aug 20, 2023

Face-changing masks were always a staple in Mission: Impossible movies & how they were used in Mission: Impossible 7 honors tradition and innovation.

Warning! SPOILERS about Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One ahead.Latex masks worn by heroes and villains alike were always a must-have of the franchise, and Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One employed them with style without overusing them. While over the years some Mission: Impossible films relied more heavily on face-changing masks than others, two later installments before Mission: Impossible 7 complicated things for Ethan Hunt and his loyal collaborators by making their mask-making equipment often unavailable. Mission: Impossible 7 does something similar in the final showdown, but it also pays respects to the older Mission: Impossible iterations that relied more heavily on masks-induced plot twists and surprises.

With Mission: Impossible 7 focusing just as much on Ethan’s past as it does on a difficult-to-understand AI-powered enemy, always improving as it learns more about its opponent, using masks to mislead such an adversary would be futile at best. However, the masks still proved useful, especially when misdirecting human antagonists and supposed allies alike. As Mission: Impossible 7 also proves itself as the origin story of Grace as a potential IMF operative, the use of masks works as a connection between past and future, as masks were simultaneously used by the usual wearers as they always were, and innovatively in Mission: Impossible 7.

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While Mission: Impossible 7’s opening scene sets up the Entity as a powerful enemy with the Sevastopol submarine disaster, the first scene that serves as an explanation of what is actually happening not-so-subtly hints at Ethan Hunt sneakily returning to the midst of the action by wearing someone else’s face. The scene is not only a reminder of Ethan and Kittridge’s original confrontation in Budapest from Mission: Impossible I but also references the many times Ethan Hunt took foes by surprise in past Mission: Impossible installments. Although both villains and Benji managed to use masks to misdirect others, it was originally always Ethan who relied on masks on his missions.

In a perfect reference to the first Mission: Impossible, which established Ethan’s status as an IMF legend because of who he managed to take out, essentially protecting the very nature of the IMF as it was known, even newcomer Grace manages to wear a mask. Benji highlighted throughout the various Mission: Impossible movies how it was never him who wore masks, while Ethan wore them extensively. Mission: Impossible 7 succeeds in letting only the two characters at the center wear face-swapping masks, creating continuity between Ethan representing the old guard, and Grace representing Mission: Impossible 7’s future.

The reunion of the agencies’ heads detailing Ethan’s shortcomings because he didn’t show up to execute their plan to fight the Entity is the perfect occasion for a disguise, as it offers Ethan the chance to be in the loop while also dramatically beginning Mission: Impossible 7. The reveal that Ethan is actually there and against the IMF and the other agencies’ goals to control the AI creation, favoring instead its destruction, is timed perfectly with Ethan’s actions to misdirect all agencies’ operatives. Indeed, the mask of Kittridge’s adjutant gives him both freedom and knowledge about the mission, proving the best possible way to set up Mission: Impossible 7.

Putting to sleep all the major agencies’ chiefs only to be able to exchange words with Kittridge obviously puts Ethan in a tight spot. However, when Kittridge answers the phone, he makes sure to communicate that things aren’t as they should be and that he needs support. Getting to wear Kittridge’s face as a mask to make it out alive of the meeting not only makes Mission: Impossible 7 reference various previous Mission: Impossible movies’ turning points (where Ethan wore masks to exit difficult situations) but also highlights how Ethan already believed that his goals and the IMF’s differed on the Entity.

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While it isn’t the first time that Ethan’s mission is disavowed by the IMF, as his story’s beginning saw him fighting to prove his innocence in Mission: Impossible I, thus operating without the IMF support, Mission: Impossible 7 marks the first time Ethan and the IMF’s objectives are essentially opposite on how to handle a threat. Even when he didn’t agree, Ethan always made sure to either convince IMF authorities to see his point or eventually do things by their book. Instead, Mission: Impossible 7’s threat is so considerable that it makes Ethan fully act without the support of his agency, instead relying solely on Benji, Luther, and Ilsa.

Mission: Impossible 7’s final showdown always involved Ethan being by Grace’s side on the train so that they could pull off the heist by taking the Sevastopol key and trying to survive it, against the Entity’s wishes, at least according to the speech of Mission: Impossible 7’s villain Gabriel. With Grace having to impersonate Alanna Mitsopolis, Ethan doubling as her bodyguard and helper Zola only made sense. However, Mission: Impossible 7 only showed this mask-wearing opportunity in the planning part of the heist, when Benji and Ethan are still trying to convince Grace that they can pull it off and that she can make it right by joining the IMF.

Mission: Impossible 7 works as a perfect origin story for Grace as an IMF operative because it gives her a reason to fight for a goal that isn’t just self-serving (with Ilsa’s sacrifice essentially saving Grace). Albeit happening sooner than it did with other fully-fledged operatives like Benji, who waited years and a promotion to agent before employing masks, Grace’s first mission coincides with her wearing a mask to impersonate the White Widow. Grace being on her first mission mostly without Ethan, along with wearing an incomplete mask that didn’t modify her eyes simultaneously proves her ability and simulates a final choice being given to her between self-serving and world-saving.

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Grace choosing to refuse Kittridge’s money and going after the Sevastopol key with the intention of eventually defeating the Entity cements her as a Mission: Impossible hero operative worthy of Ethan Hunt’s team in Mission: Impossible 7’s ending. Her coming to that decision while wearing a mask, thus doing something quintessentially synonymous with Ethan Hunt’s way of working in IMF missions, welcomes Grace to the team in the most iconic Mission: Impossible way. This way, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One uses face-changing masks in the best way possible, uniting the history and tradition of Mission: Impossible with its potential future.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part OneMission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One