The Mission Impossible franchise has been one of those rare film entities that haw managed to improve with time. There may have been a few bumps along the road in the second and third entries in the franchise, but the last three films have all been outstanding. A large reason for the franchise's success, other than Tom Cruise's insane stunt work, has been the generally strong villains.
While there have been some missteps in regards the films villains, most notably the poor treatment of Jim Phelps and the repetition of the 'Government Mole' character trope, each villain has served its purpose within the story arc while also dishing out some deliciously dark moments. From the brutal murder of hundreds without a second thought to the enjoyment of watching others suffer, the villains on this list have taken down many innocents without a second thought.
While there have been many henchmen in each of the MI films, only the primary antagonists have made it onto this list. The likes of cyber terrorist Max from the first Mission Impossible film and Vanessa Kirby's black-market arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis from Fallout don't appear, as while they might not be the nicest folk going around, they aren't necessarily adversaries for Ethan Hunt and his respective IMF teams.
So prepare to put your Scooby Doo masks on and take a running leap onto your neighbouring apartment's roof, as we rank each of the villains from the Mission Impossible franchise.
13. Jim Phelps - Mission Impossible
While the first Mission Impossible is a brilliant, tension filled complex mystery that is as good as any in the franchise, this all comes in spite of a poor choice for the primary villain. While the film contains two of the best villains of the MI films who both feature prominently on this list, the choice to have legendary hero Jim Phelps as a villain is a bad one. Having the frontman for IMF throughout the TV series was a great decision, but the fact original actor Peter Graves refused to return says a lot.
Jon Voight does a fine job as Phelps, with the IMF boss still feeling very much like the man with a plan from the TV series. The choice to turn him into a villain just feels wrong, with his turn to the dark side betraying his character arc from the TV series, seemingly for the sake of finding a way to give Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt top billing.
There was definitely shock value here in the villainous reveal, but more in a 'why on Earth are they doing this' way. What may have worked better is a final reveal that showed Jim trying to expose his wife as a mole before being killed by her as he attempts to stop her plans. This would have left his legacy in tact, while clearing the path for Mister Hunt to take the reins in leading the IMF team.