Ethan Matthew Hunt is a senior field operations agent for the IMF, an elite, top-secret espionage and covert operations agency that handles dangerous and highly sensitive international missions that have been deemed "impossible". He is the other protagonist of the Mission: Impossible series besides Jim Phelps.
Name: Ethan Matthew Hunt
Occupation: Field Operations Agent, Impossible Mission Force, IMF
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with no criminal record
Date Of Birth: August 18th, 1964
Place Of Birth: Madison, Wisconsin
Marital Status: Married, divorced
Known Relatives: Nathan Hunt (father; deceased), Margaret Hunt (mother; deceased), Julia Meade Hunt (wife), Donald Hunt (uncle)
Group Affiliations: United States Army, Manhattan-based private investigation firm, Central Intelligence Agency, Impossible Mission Force
Base of Operations: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Weight: 165 lbs.
Ethan Matthew Hunt was born on August 13th, 1964, the only child of Margaret and Nathan Hunt. Raised on a dairy farm in Middlefield, New York, he went on to Syracuse University after graduating from high school. Ethan graduated from Syracuse with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. A little while later, he enlisted in the United States Army. Ethan decided to become an intelligence analyst. After completing basic combat training and then advanced individual training at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, he went on to the U.S. Army Airborne School. Upon completing airborne training, Ethan was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He served as an intelligence analyst in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Two years into his Army career, Ethan applied to become a counterintelligence agent. He eventually went on to the Counterintelligence Special Agent Course at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center. Afterwards, Ethan was assigned as a counterintelligence agent to the 313th Military Intelligence Battalion With numerous commendations, he left the Army after four years of service and moved to New York City. Ethan obtained a private investigator license was soon after hired by a Manhattan-based private investigation firm. A couple of years later, he applied to join the Central Intelligence Agency. Before he could join the Agency, Ethan had to go through a thorough medical and psychological exam, a polygraph interview and an extensive background investigation. Upon passing the entrance and psychological examinations, he was contacted by a CIA official who believed he would be perfect for a organization outside of the Agency. In short order, he was recruited into an ultra-secret agency called the Impossible Mission Force.
Although he was initially only told that he would be tasked with "unconventional black ops", Ethan exuberantly accepted the job offer. Afterwards he was informed of IMF's mandate. He then went through an intensive operational training course to train him in so-called "operational intelligence" or "tradecraft" skills, including surveillance, clandestine photography, infiltration, and exfiltration techniques. He was also trained for night parachuting, tactical high speed emergency driving, rappelling from helicopters, and dry and wet demolition. Because of his military experience, Ethan excelled through training.
Once he completed training, he was given the "cover legend" of a systems analyst for the U.S. Department of Transportation and placed in a five person team (called an "IM Force") as the team's point man. Led by Senior Agent Jim Phelps, the team's job was to infiltrate secure installations, seize critical intelligence, destroy dangerous data or equipment, and neutralize the enemy as needed, without leaving a trace. The Impossible Missions Force is different than most intelligence organizations in that, once their orders have been given, there are no required procedures for the fulfillment of the mission. Therefore, Ethan and his fellow agents could use whatever means they deem necessary. Success was all that matters. The downside was, of course, obvious. If a team member was captured or killed, the Secretary of State would disavow any knowledge of his or her actions.
Just a few months into his IMF career, Ethan's team assembled for a mission in Prague that would change Ethan's life dramatically. The objective of the mission was to prevent a U.S. diplomat from selling the Non-official cover (NOC) list - a comprehensive list of all covert agents in Eastern Europe. The mission went inextricably wrong, resulting in the deaths of the team, leaving Ethan the sole survivor. Fleeing the scene, Ethan met with Eugene Kittridge, the CIA-based director of the IMF, at a café. Ethan, very much in shock, was disturbed to learn from Kittridge that a mole, codenamed Job, had infiltrated IMF, and that the Prague operation was meant to ferret Job out by allowing the mole to acquire the NOC list and attempt to sell it to "Max", an illegal arms dealer known for corrupting IMF agents. The NOC list in Prague was fake, the real list being held in CIA headquarters in Virginia. With Ethan the sole survivor, the CIA believed he was the mole. Ethan realizes this, and mounted a daring escape from the café, fleeing into Prague.
Ethan returned to the IMF safe house, where he discovered fellow IMF agent Claire Phelps, Phelps's wife, actually survived the mission. Ethan began a correspondence with "Max" (a woman), explaining that the NOC list was a fake and offering to deliver the real NOC list in exchange for the identity of the mole. Max agreed to the deal and offered Ethan a cash advance, which Ethan used to assemble a team of disavowed former IMF agents, including computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Franz Krieger. The new team infiltrated the heavily fortified headquarters of the CIA in Langley and successfully stole a copy of the full NOC list before escaping to a safe house in London. Once there, Ethan discovered that his uncle and mother had been falsely arrested for drug trafficking in an attempt to lure him out. This infuriated Hunt, and he contacted Kittridge, who offered to drop the false charges the moment Ethan surrendered to authorities. Ethan hung up, after allowing Kittridge to trace him to the London area, turned around and walked right into Jim Phelps.
Phelps, presumed dead in the Prague operation, revealed that Kittridge was the mole and was tying up loose ends by trying to apprehend Ethan. Ethan reflected on this, while in reality piecing together the clues he discovered leading up to his operation and realized that Phelps was the mole, Job. Ethan pretended to accept the story while being uncertain about Claire's place in the conspiracy. The next day, Max and Ethan arranged to meet aboard the TGV en route to Paris, with Claire and Luther aboard to provide backup. Kittridge was also aboard, having recently arrived in London and received tickets for the TGV and a video watch from Ethan. In the train, Ethan delivered the supposed NOC list to Max, who directed him to the luggage compartment to find his money, and Job. Max then attempted to transmit the NOC list to a server, an operation hindered by Luther, who activated a jamming device to prevent the upload. Claire, observing Kittridge's presence aboard the train, vacated her seat and met with Phelps in the luggage car, confirming her part in the conspiracy. A silent "Phelps" slowly peeled away his mask, revealing himself as Ethan. Suddenly, the real Phelps appeared, armed and demanding the NOC list money. Ethan surrendered it before pulling out a pair of glasses. He slid them over his eyes, activating the camera inside and transmitting Phelps's image to Kittridge, proving beyond a doubt that Phelps was still alive.
Phelps, now revealed as the traitor, shot Claire in anger when she spoke against killing Ethan. He then beat Ethan down before escaping to the roof of the train, where Krieger, also a traitor, waited to extract him with a helicopter. Ethan recovered and followed Phelps, impeded his efforts to escape and tethered Krieger's helicopter to the train as it headed into the Channel Tunnel. The fight continued, with the helicopter now following the train inside the tunnel. The two fought atop the wind-swept train before Phelps disconnected the helicopter from the train and attempted to escape. Ethan followed, leapt onto the helicopter's landing skids and attached explosive gum to the windshield. The ensuing explosion killed Phelps and Krieger, with Ethan narrowly escaping. Kittridge, now in possession of the NOC list and Max's true identity, dropped his investigation against Ethan and reinstated Luther as an IMF agent.
A little while later, as Ethan was on a plane flying home, a flight attendant approached him and through a coded phrase asked if he's ready for another mission; because of his actions during the crisis, Ethan was promoted to the position of team leader. After being given the new cover legend of a traffic engineer who studies traffic patterns for the Virginia Department of Transportation, he officially became a "senior field operations agent." Since then, Ethan Hunt has become the Impossible Mission Force's premier field agent.
The Chimera Mission
Three years later, Ethan, while vacationing, is alerted by the IMF that someone has used his identity to assist Russian bio-chemical expert Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals to enter the United States, only to kill him in a subsequent plane crash. Nekhorvich, an old associate of Ethan and the scientest that Jim Phelps saved in 1967, had forewarned the IMF of his arrival, planning to deliver a new bioweapon, Chimera, and its cure, Bellerophon, both of which he was forced to develop by Biocyte, into the IMF's hands. With his death, IMF is worried that the virus is out in the open, believing that rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose is responsible. IMF assigns Ethan to recover it. Ethan is told that he can use two members of his team to help him, but the third person to help him must be Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief presently operating in Seville, Spain, as she will be able to get close to Ambrose, being an ex-girlfriend.
After recruiting Nyah, Ethan meets his team--computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Billy Baird in Sydney, Australia, where Biocyte laboratories are located along with Ambrose's headquarters. As Ethan and the others stake out Biocyte, Nyah gets close to Ambrose and begins to work him for information related to the Chimera virus. At a horse racing event, Ambrose quietly meets with Biocyte's CEO, John C. McCloy, and shows him a video of the Chimera virus affecting one of Nekhorvich's colleagues, taken from Biocyte, so he can blackmail McCloy into cooperating with them. Nyah is able to pocket the video footage long enough to transfer it to Ethan and his team, who learn that the Chimera virus has a 20-hour dormant period before it causes death through mass destruction of the victim's red blood cells. Bellerophon can save the victim only if used within that 20-hour window.
The IMF team kidnaps McCloy and learns that Nekhorvich had actually injected himself with Chimera, the only way he could smuggle the virus from Biocyte, and had all the known samples of Bellerophon, now presently in Ambrose's hands. Ambrose had forced McCloy to sell him the virus for £37,000,000 in exchange for the samples of Bellerophon. Ethan's team plans to break into Biocyte and destroy the virus. Ambrose, posing as Ethan, tricks Nyah into revealing Ethan's plan. Ambrose secures Nyah and prepares to raid Biocyte himself to secure the virus. Ethan is able to destroy all but one sample of the virus before Ambrose interrupts him, and a firefight ensues. Ethan learns that Ambrose is holding Nyah and stops firing, during which Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the last sample. When she does so, she injects herself with it, thus preventing Ambrose from simply killing her to get it. As Ambrose takes Nyah and Ethan escapes from the laboratory in the ensuing gun battle between Ambrose's men and Biocyte security, Ethan starts a 20-hour countdown before the virus takes over Nyah's body.
Ambrose opts to let Nyah wander the streets of Sydney in a daze, intending to trigger a Chimera pandemic in Australia, and orders McCloy to effectively hand over enough control of Biocyte to make him the majority shareholder; Ambrose's plan is now to make a fortune when prices of Biocyte's stock skyrocket due to demand for Bellerophon. Ethan's team is able to locate and infiltrate the meeting, stealing the samples of Bellerophon while taking out many of Ambrose's men. Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliff side, intent on killing herself to prevent Chimera from spreading. As the two IMF agents bring Nyah to Ethan, he and Ambrose engage in a fist fight. With little time left on the 20-hour countdown, Ethan finally gains the upper hand over Ambrose and shoots him dead, and Luther injects Nyah with Bellerophon. The IMF clears Nyah's criminal record, and allows Ethan to continue his vacation with her in Sydney.
Nyah's Death and Meeting Julia
After the events in Sydney, Ethan retired from the IMF and settled down with Nyah, now his girlfriend, in San Francisco. However, in 2002, Ethan went back home and entered the bedroom, only to find her dead. The bed was covered in blood and Ethan was horrifed to see her corpse. All he is left to do is scream in anguish holding Nyah's dead body in his hands. Because of this, he began suffering nightmares about her death.
A few months later, Ethan went to Lake Wanaka for a vaction, hoping to move on with life. It was there that he met and fell in love with his future wife, a Virginia Regional Hospital nurse named Julia Meade, while on a "heli-boarding" trip at the lake. They would eventually start dating and move to Norfolk, Virgina. He also met her sister, Melissa, and they would visit her house to watch classic movies, such as Casablanca and Gone with the Wind.
Two years later, in 2004, Ethan starts training recruits for the IMF. It was there that he met the new IMF Director and his future boss Theodore Brassel and agent William Brandt. One of the recruits he trained was Lindsey Farris. He proposed to Julia to marry him and she accepted. However, he still suffered nightmares from his past during his sleep.
Operation Rabbit's Foot
In 2006, four years after Nyah was murdered, Ethan is approached by fellow IMF agent John Musgrave about a mission to rescue one of Ethan's protégés, Lindsey Farris, who was captured while investigating arms dealer Owen Davian. Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan: Declan Gormley, Zhen Lei, and his old partner Luther Stickell who are waiting in Berlin.
The team rescues Lindsey and collects two damaged laptop computers. As they flee via helicopter, Ethan discovers an explosive pellet implanted in Lindsey's head. Before he can disable it, it goes off and kills her. Back in the U.S., Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by Brassel. Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.
IMF technician Benji Dunn recovers enough data from the laptops to determine Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the "Rabbit's Foot". Ethan plans a mission to capture Davian without seeking official approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital's chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian.
On the flight back to the U.S., Davian threatens to kill Ethan and his loved ones. Ethan then threatens to drop Davian out of the plane, during which Davian overhears Luther calling Ethan by his first name. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that she believes Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel is suddenly attacked, and Davian escapes. Fearing for Julia's safety, Ethan races to the hospital, only to find she has already been taken. Davian gives Ethan 48 hours to recover the Rabbit's Foot in exchange for Julia's life, but Ethan is soon captured by the IMF.
Musgrave takes part in Ethan's interrogation but discreetly mouths that the Rabbit's Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape. Ethan and his team raid the building where the Rabbit's Foot is secured, and inform Davian that they have the Rabbit's Foot. Ethan, delivering the Rabbit's Foot alone, is forced to take a tranquilizer. As he comes to, he realizes a micro-explosive is implanted in his head. The restrained Ethan sees Davian apparently holding Julia at gunpoint (the full scene opens the movie). Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbit's Foot, Davian shoots Julia and leaves.
Musgrave arrives and explains that the woman killed by Davian was not Julia, but Davian's head of security in a mask, executed for failing to protect Davian in Vatican City. The Julia-mask was used to force Ethan to confirm the authenticity of the Rabbit's Foot. The real Julia is alive and held as Davian's hostage. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole, having arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbit's Foot to sell to a terrorist group so the IMF would have reason to launch a preemptive strike. Musgrave asks Ethan about the microdot Lindsey sent, wanting to know if Lindsay had compromised him. To convince Ethan to cooperate, Musgrave dials his phone for Ethan to hear Julia's voice to confirm she is alive. Ethan bites on Musgrave's hand and knocks him unconscious, freeing himself, and uses Musgrave's phone (with Benji's help) to track down the location of Musgrave's last call. Ethan finds Davian and pushes him into the path of a truck, but not before Davian triggers the countdown of the micro-explosive. Freeing Julia, Ethan instructs her to electrocute him, deactivate the explosive, and then revive him. He also instructs her in using a gun for her protection. While reviving Ethan, Julia fatally shoots Musgrave. She successfully revives Ethan, and he explains his true IMF career to her.
Back in the U.S., Brassel congratulates Ethan as he leaves for his honeymoon to Croatia with Julia. Ethan is unsure if he will return to the IMF. Brassel promises that he will tell Ethan what the Rabbit's Foot is if Ethan will promise to return. Ethan smiles and walks off with Julia.
In Croatia, Ethan and Julia were both on their honeymoon together until Hunt realized that the only way to protect her from death was to fake it, as he didn't want to lose her the same way as he lost Nyah four years ago. Agent William Brandt was assigned by Brassel to watch the family, following Ethan one day as he went for a jog. Brandt assigned two men to watch Julia before he left and after returning, he found them both unconscious and Julia gone. Days later, Brandt was told that what was left of Julia's body had been found. In apparent retaliation for his wife's murder, Hunt killed six Serbian nationalists linked to the crime, and as a result was sent to Rankow Prison. In reality, the IMF invented this cover to allow Hunt to inflitrate the prison, in the hope of gaining information in regards to a terrorist named Cobalt. Julia, now safe, was kept a secret by Ethan, who had to keep his distance from her. He would only return to her after he's done working with the IMF.
Ghost Protocol Incident
In 2010, Hunt (having just escaped from a prison following a different recon mission) and his IMF team are blamed for an attack that destroys the Kremlin, resulting in the disavowal of the entire IMF. Despite lacking their usual resources, connections, technology, and backup, their mission is to find and stop Kurt Hendricks, a former Soviet nuclear strategist who is intent on starting a nuclear war to usher in the next era of human evolution. As they chase Hendricks to Dubai and on to India, they themselves are pursued by a team of Russian agents trying to apprehend them. The team becomes increasingly fractured as individual members fight their own demons while trying to trust the others. Hunt manages to pull the team together, stop a nuclear bomb and clear the IMF of any involvement in the Kremlin attack. It is also revealed that Hunt had Julia's death faked to protect her, something only he and the Secretary of IMF knew about, giving him the pretext to infiltrate the prison his team free him.
Rogue Nation Incident
In 2014, Ethan is assigned to a mission by Brassel that culminates in him hanging outside of an A400M millittary aircraft, 5,000 feet above the ground, to recover a package that contained VX nerve gas in Belarus. Although this mission succeeds, when he learns that the thieves responsible for stealing the gas lacked the connections to do so, Hunt begins to uncover evidence at the existence of the Syndicate, essentially an 'anti-IMF' with all of the organisation's training and skills but used for criminal purposes.
After Hunt is forced to go off-the-grid when he is nearly killed by a Syndicate operative and the IMF is disbanded and absorbed into the CIA due to its controversial and destructive methods, he spends the next six months trying to track the Syndicate. Eventually, he and his former team learn that the Syndicate was actually originally a British project to perform missions without oversight, but British agent Solomon Lane took the plans and went rogue, now seeking to steal files that would grant him access to various established bank accounts to finance future Syndicate operations.
Refusing to allow the Syndicate to continue, Hunt and his team were able to capture Lane, with the help of MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. Later, Ethan returns to the U.S. and visits Nyah's grave. He then runs his former mentor, Jim Phelps, revealed to be alive. He discovers that he killed the wrong one in 1996.
Personality and traits
Ethan is proactive, tending to initiate events rather than respond to them. Ever before Jim Phelps betrayed him, he tended to act independently; it later became one of his main traits after his time as a fugitive in 1996. He is capable of planning and undertaking very intricate schemes, particularly covert intrusions.
He prefers misdirection to confrontation, as is expected of a covert agent, and will do his best not to endanger innocent bystanders.
Ethan is extremely observant, with an almost-photographic memory, and his ability to make profound deductions with limited clues is very impressive. He is also very good at hiding his reaction to critical information; for example, during one mission he realized one of his hired hands was also one of the people who assassinated his former team, but he did not show any visible reaction that would have given away this revelation.
He also enjoys engaging in playful banter in conversation and often wins people over quickly by virtue of his charm.
Like Phelps, Ethan shows loyalty to those few who can gain his trust, mostly his friends, his late girlfriend Nyah and his wife Julia. He is completely ready to sacrifice his life if it will save someone he loves, and will stop at nothing to protect them. Prior to his betrayal by Phelps, Ethan saw him as his father figure and respected him. However, after being betrayed, he lost all of his faith in Phelps and saw his as criminal who deserved to die. He would not learn the truth until 2014.
Ethan is incredibly intelligent, and almost recklessly daring in his missions. He is highly cunning and extremely astute and calculating, especially when it comes to knowing his enemies. He is highly idealistic and devises philosophical traps during debates.
Hunt is a master of disguises, stealth, espionage tactics and according to his profile he has been taught the Brazilian martial arts of Capoeira. He shows limited fighting ability, kicking a CIA employee while stealing the NOC list but later he is knocked out in a confrontation by the older but more experienced Jim Phelps. As the series progresses, however, Hunt remains using his stealth tactics while using various kicks, holds, and flips during attacks on terrorist personnel. In 1999, he is using techniques inspired by Capoeira, which fits with his profile from the first movie. In the third installment, while still using some Capoeira, he also utilizes techniques from the Keysi fighting method, and in a training scene with Lynsey Ferris, we see him teaching her the Filipino martial arts of Eskrima. He displays several extremely complex ninjujutsu moves in the fourth movie, including a selection of Capoeira and taekwondo moves. During his prison escape, he mainly utilises Kenpo Karate and judo moves, and resorts to combined Capoeira, ninjujutsu, taekwondo and Karate moves and strategies when battling Kurt Hendricks. He also returns his mastery of stealth and surprise whilst battling the nuclear extremist.
Alan Hunley, the CIA director and Jim Phelps' adversary, commented that Ethan is "uniquely trained and highly motivated" having remembered Phelps and calling Hunt an expert with no equal, like Phelps before him, and resistant to any countermeasures. He even said that there is no information he can't get, not protection he can't fracture, no one he can't become, literately calling Ethan the living manifestation of destiny.
Ethan is also a skilled handler of firearms, capable of operating many handguns, shotguns, SMGs, assault rifes, and explosive ordnances. His sidearm remains the Beretta 92FS 9mm semi-automatic handgun, which he uses it throughout the series.
He also appears to be ambidextreus since he can dual-wield single handed weapons and only seems to be able to hold two more (like holding two Berettas during the attack on Dr. Nekhorvich's lab in 1999).
- - Mission: Impossible (First appearance)
|Mission: Impossible||Jim Phelps - Ethan Hunt - Claire Phelps - Eugene Kittridge - Franz Krieger - Luther Stickell - Max - Sarah Davies - Jack Harmon - Hannah Williams - Gennady Zoismov - John Waltzer|
|Mission: Impossible II||Ethan Hunt - Nyah Nordoff-Hall - Sean Ambrose - Luther Stickell - Billy Baird - Vladimir Nekhorvich - John C. McCloy - Hugh Stamp - Swanbeck|
|Mission: Impossible III||Ethan Hunt - Julia Meade - Owen Davian - Luther Stickell - John Musgrave - Declan Gormley - Zhen Lei - Theodore Brassel - Melissa Meade - Nyah Nordoff-Hall - Jim Phelps|