Could Tom Cruise Go Rogue In ‘Mission: Impossible IV’? What Menace Could He Face Next?

Yesterday’s “Mission: Impossible IV” news took a lot of people by surprise. For some time now, it’s been speculated that series star Tom Cruise would take a smaller role in the fourth movie to make way for a new, younger star. As we now know, Ethan Hunt will once again lead the U.S. intelligence services in his impossible fight against evil. But what form will that evil take?

We know one thing for sure: IMF has got some serious security issues. In all three movies, Ethan has dealt with an enemy from within. Jon Voight and Dougray Scott, in the first and second installments, respectively, were pretty much the Big Bad. There were other villainous figures, but these two really ran the show for the bad guys. “M:I3″ director J.J. Abrams got cute with the third movie, using an actual criminal for the mastermind. But hey, along came Billy Crudup to prove yet again that the IMF does a terrible job of researching agency candidates.

I have a couple suggestions for Abrams and Cruise, who are both producing. How about Ving Rhames? His Luther Stickell has appeared in all three movies, a close associate of Ethan’s. Maybe something happens on a mission, some “above and beyond” task is demanded of him, and Stickell goes off the deep end. Maybe it’s even a throwback to the first flick, except this time Luther is framed and no one, not even Ethan (at first), trusts in his innocence. Or maybe Luther just gets tired of playing second fiddle to goldenboy Hunt, so he goes rogue.

No good? Simon Pegg then. His Benji Dunn, an IMF lab tech, doesn’t show up until the third movie. And he’s mostly there for comic relief. Do you know how degrading that is? This guy could probably make chewing gum that lets you read the thoughts of others — and pop their mind grapes — and he’s relegated to the “lovable loser” role? Pegg shouldn’t stand for that, and neither should Benji. “M:I4″ should see the beaten-down genius rise up and show the world what he’s really capable of.

Here’s a wacky idea, but bear with me. Why not Ethan himself? Let’s face it, the past three movies have not been kind to Mr. Hunt. He has every right to be angry and disillusioned after the way his country has treated him. Perhaps this “Cruise starring in ’M:I4′” news is all just a ruse to throw us off the scent. Ethan is really the villain, and he’s plotting to take over the world! “Mission Impossible 4: The Vengeance of Luther Stickell”!!!

One last possibility. I know it’s outlandish. All I ask is that you consider it. Maybe the villain in “M:I4″ should be… an actual criminal. Like, for once IMF seems to have worked out its HR issues and actually hired a group of people who are wholly committed to protecting the world from evil. I know, I know… it’s a stretch. I’m not asking that you agree… only that you admit I might be on to something here.

Where should the wretched hive of scum and villainy in “Mission: Impossible IV” be focused? Is it time to retire the old rogue agent chestnut?