All 7 Mission: Impossible Opening Credits Sequences, Ranked Worst To Best

Summary

  • The opening credits sequences of the Mission: Impossible franchise have evolved over the years, with each movie bringing its own unique style and elements to the table.
  • Every Mission: Impossible movie uses Lalo Schifrin’s iconic theme tune, but they each add their own spin on it.
  • The best Mission: Impossible credits sequences can get audiences even more excited for the movie.

The Mission: Impossible franchise begins every movie with a dynamic opening credits sequence, and these brief scenes have become one of the franchise’s most popular traditions. Mission: Impossible is an adaptation of a TV series which began in the 1960s, and the movies use the same iconic theme tune by the Argentinian composer Lalo Schifrin. The movies also reference the show’s opening credits, especially with the image of a lit fuse that the first few movies use. Over the course of seven movies, the franchise has developed plenty of its own motifs.

The Mission: Impossible franchise’s opening credits have become known for providing a preview of some of the movie’s jaw-dropping action scenes and exotic locations, mainly since Christopher McQuarrie took the reins. While anticipation for Mission: Impossible 8 builds, fans of the franchise can be sure to expect a similarly exciting opening credits sequence. These sequences seem designed to build even more hype for the movie, and they always set the tone for another exciting action adventure.

Tom Cruise as Ethan looking concerned towards Simon Pegg's Benji in Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Related Mission: Impossible 8 Gets Exciting Filming Update From Simon Pegg After 2 Years Of Shooting

Mission: Impossible 8 finally gets a promising filming update from Simon Pegg as he confirms he has wrapped production after two years of shooting.

7 Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

The franchise weakest opening sequence doesn’t fit with the traditions of Mission: Impossible

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Mission Impossible 2

Director John Woo Release Date May 24, 2000 Cast Richard Roxburgh , Ving Rhames , Dougray Scott , Tom Cruise , Thandie Newton

Mission: Impossible 2 is often cited as a weak point in the franchise, and the opening credits are no exception. They barely feel like they fit with the franchise at all, especially since the score is virtually unrecognizable. Hans Zimmer tried to inject the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack with some vibrant rock music, typified by the screeching guitar sounds in the title sequence. This works pretty well in some of the action sequences, even if it dates the movie, but Zimmer’s take on the theme tune seems like it’s trying too hard to embellish something that doesn’t need it.

Mission: Impossible
2
is often cited as a weak point in the franchise, and the opening credits are no exception.

Aside from the divisive music choice, the Mission: Impossible 2 credits sequence suffers from its uninteresting visuals. Other movies in the franchise show a sneak preview of some of the exciting stunts and gorgeous locations that are to come, or they hint at the broad strokes of the plot. Mission: Impossible 2 does none of this. Instead, it’s a jumble of floating 3D letters and pyrotechnics. There’s a still image of Bellerophon from Greek mythology, which hints at the movie’s all-important drug, but this doesn’t do much to excite the viewer.

6 Mission: Impossible III (2006)

It may be visually bland, but Mission: Impossible III’s theme song is a big plus

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Mission: Impossible III Where to Watch

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Director J.J. Abrams Release Date May 5, 2006 Cast Tom Cruise , Michelle Monaghan , Maggie Q , Simon Pegg , Philip Seymour Hoffman , Ving Rhames , Jonathan Rhys Meyers , Billy Crudup , Keri Russell , Laurence Fishburne

Mission: Impossible III‘s opening credits sequence is a minor improvement on the movie which came before it, but it’s just as visually bland. The sequence consists solely of the names of the cast flashing up on-screen with a burning fuse in the background. There are no glimpses at the action, nor are there any faces to contextualize and break up the long list of names. After the good work of the first Mission: Impossible movie’s credits sequence, the next two sequels constitute a massive step backwards, and they might as well not be there.

Mission: Impossible III
has memorable action scenes like the bridge ambush or the scene at the Vatican, but none of these are shown.

One thing that Mission: Impossible III does better than the second movie is honor the original score. Michael Giacchino’s take on the theme tune uses snare drums to imitate the rapid percussion of a military procession, which fits with Ethan’s role training IMF recruits at the beginning of the movie. Although the music is a positive, the credits sequence still doesn’t stack up with later entries into the franchise. Owen Davian is arguably the best Mission: Impossible villain, and Mission: Impossible III has memorable action scenes like the bridge ambush or the scene at the Vatican, but none of these are shown.

5 Mission: Impossible (1996)

The franchise’s first credits sequence marks a strong start

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Mission: Impossible Where to Watch

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Director Brian De Palma Release Date May 22, 1996 Cast Jon Voight , Ving Rhames , Vanessa Redgrave , Tom Cruise , Emmanuelle Béart , Henry Czerny , Jean Reno , Kristin Scott Thomas

The opening credit sequence from the first Mission: Impossible movie sets up a lot of elements which went on to become staples for the franchise. There are plenty of quick cuts and bursts of action, but it’s interesting to note just how much time these opening credits devote to the technology in Mission: Impossible. The computer databases and digital schematics may seem quaint by today’s standards, but they were bordering on science-fiction in 1996. The franchise has continued showing off cutting-edge spyware ever since.

The opening credit sequence from the first
Mission: Impossible
movie sets up a lot of elements which went on to become staples for the franchise.

The big challenge for Brian De Palma was creating a Mission: Impossible credits sequence that honors the legacy of the franchise, but still introduces a few fresh twists. The theme song feels heftier and more frantic than it did in either the 1966 TV series or the 1988 reboot, but it’s still easily identifiable as Lalo Schifrin’s iconic tune. The first movie also keeps the visual motif of a match setting off a fuse, but it isn’t animated this time. This gives the sequence a kinetic feeling that the TV shows lacked. The franchise went on to develop more interesting sequences, but Mission: Impossible was a solid start.

4 Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning (2023)

The latest Mission: Impossible movie has a busy credits sequence

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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning

Director Christopher McQuarrie Release Date July 12, 2023 Cast Tom Cruise , Ving Rhames , Simon Pegg , Rebecca Ferguson , Vanessa Kirby , Haley Atwell , Shea Whigham , Pom Klementieff , Esai Morales , Rob Delaney , Henry Czerny , Cary Elwes

The latest Mission: Impossible movie kicks off with a strong opening credits sequence, but it doesn’t quite stitch together its separate elements cohesively. The theme song is fairly clean-cut and traditional, but the visuals are glitchy and jittery, to match up with the movie’s theme of artificial intelligence. Dead Reckoning‘s opening credits hint at the Entity in a few interesting ways. The splashes of blue throughout the sequence show the Entity’s deep reach, and Christopher McQuarrie adds in several scenes which don’t actually appear in the movie to illustrate how the Entity can fabricate its own version of reality.

The sequence turns down the opportunity to end on a high note. There’s a momentary pause as Ethan Hunt’s motorcycle glides over a cliff, but the sequence carries on moving for a little while longer.

While Dead Reckoning has some great ideas in its opening credits sequence, it may be a little too clever for its own good. Compared to the movies which came before it, these credits feel less enticing overall. The big stunts and dramatic moments are intercut with one too many close-ups of the cross-shaped White Key, as if the movie is trying to hammer home the importance of this MacGuffin from the beginning. The sequence also turns down the opportunity to end on a high note. There’s a momentary pause as Ethan Hunt’s motorcycle glides over a cliff, but the sequence carries on moving for a little while longer.

3 Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Fallout slows down the theme song, and it works well

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout Where to Watch

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Director Christopher McQuarrie Release Date July 25, 2018 Cast Tom Cruise , Rebecca Ferguson , Henry Cavill , Vanessa Kirby

Arguably the best Mission: Impossible movie of all, Fallout also has one of the best opening credits sequences. The theme tune is slowed down a touch, which makes the entire sequence feel slightly less exciting than other movies, but it’s far tenser, and even foreboding. This aligns with Fallout‘s plot, which evokes Cold War anxieties about the end of the world via a nuclear apocalypse. Mission: Impossible – Fallout has the highest stakes possible, both personally and in terms of global peace, and the credits sequence helps set these stakes.

To add to the threatening atmosphere that the music sets, the opening sequence shows flames eating away at the images, as if the fire is threatening to engulf the whole world.

To add to the threatening atmosphere that the music sets, the opening sequence shows flames eating away at the images, as if the fire is threatening to engulf the whole world. The sequence balances out all the elements that have become associated with Mission: Impossible‘s opening credits scenes, including punchy stunts, iconic locations and an introduction to the film’s stars. Unfortunately, it is also held back slightly by the most common criticism levied at the franchise’s title sequences. Fallout reveals just a little too much about the movie’s plot, and this threatens to dampen the impact of the movie’s biggest action set-pieces.

2 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Ghost Protocol set the new standard for the franchise’s credits sequences

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Where to Watch

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Director Brad Bird Release Date December 15, 2011 Cast Tom Cruise , Paula Patton , Simon Pegg , Jeremy Renner

Brad Bird revitalized the Mission: Impossible franchise when he came in to direct Ghost Protocol, starting with the opening credits sequence. The difference between this sequence and the drab efforts of the two movies which immediately precede it are night and day. Ghost Protocol‘s sequence crackles with intensity, and the score sounds as good as it ever has. The sequence is much longer than it is in most other movies, but it maintains a good pace throughout. The extra length also means that Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol can recognize some key crew members, not just the cast.

The credits sequence doesn’t just show snippets of action. It also uses 3D animation to hint at other elements of the plot and to build the perfect atmosphere for a spy thriller.

Ghost Protocol‘s intro sequence hints at some of the brilliant action scenes that it has in store, with special focus given to Mission: Impossible‘s Burj Khalifa stunt. The credits sequence doesn’t just show snippets of action, though. It also uses 3D animation to hint at other elements of the plot and to build the perfect atmosphere for a spy thriller. There are intricate renderings of a bullet being fired out of a gun and a submarine launching a missile, for example. These have the same effect that the computer graphics from the first Mission: Impossible scene do. They set the tone for a high-tech adventure.

1 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

The best Mission: Impossible credits sequence sets the stage perfectly

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Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Where to Watch

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Director Christopher McQuarrie Release Date July 31, 2015 Cast Alec Baldwin , Tom Cruise , Ving Rhames , Simon Pegg , Sean Harris , Jeremy Renner , Rebecca Ferguson

It should come as no surprise that Christopher McQuarrie’s first movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise solidified the formula of the opening credits sequences. Rogue Nation‘s sequence takes the best elements from both Ghost Protocol and the original Mission: Impossible movie, but it’s much shorter and snappier than Brad Bird’s sequence. It even pays tribute to the negative film aesthetic of the first movie. Rogue Nation shows bursts of action in its title sequence, but it conceals most of its biggest stunts, saving them for later.

There is still a recognizable drum line, but the melody is played with thunderous brass instruments, which makes the sequence feel bold and epic.

It’s impressive that Rogue Nation‘s credits sequence manages to be so exciting without showing off the movie’s outrageous stunts, such as Ethan dangling off the side of a plane. It uses quick cuts and basic fight scenes to achieve an effect that’s just as thrilling. The real positive of this sequence is the theme tune. There is still a recognizable drum line, but the melody is played with thunderous brass instruments, which makes the sequence feel bold and epic. McQuarrie’s following efforts have also been strong, but Rogue Nation can still boast the best opening credits sequence in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

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