Warning this article contains SPOILERS!

Mission: Impossible – Fallout brings us back into the shadowy clandestine world of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team, where things are rarely what they initially seem to be. Case in point: one of the new Mission: Impossible villains introduced in Fallout isn’t all that “new” at all – in fact, she has a major connection to the original Mission: Impossible film that some viewers may not even realize when watching the film!

In Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Ethan Hunt is tasked with hunting down a mysterious asset named “John Lark,” who is trying to acquire three plutonium cores from the “The Apostles,” aka the remnants of Solomon Lane’s Syndicate from Rogue Nation. After inadvertently killing John Lark in a brutal bathroom struggle, Ethan decides to take his place and meet with the mysterious “White Widow,” who is brokering the deal between Lark and The Apostles.

When we first meet White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), she’s hosting an exclusive charity event in the back of a popular Paris club, where shady members of the wealthy and influential elite are listening to Widow’s speech. That speech reveals Widow’s origin, as she discusses how she and her brother, Zola (Frederick Schmidt) were inspired to make power moves and influence the world by their mother, Max. It’s never directly spelled out for either Ethan or the audience in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, but “Max” isn’t just a random name-drop – it’s a reference to Vanessa Redgrave’s character in Brian de Palma’s original Mission: Impossible movie!

Vanessa Redgrave as Max in Mission Impossible 1996

If you don’t remember, Max is the broker/arms dealer who is going by the infamous NOC list (exposing non-official undercover agents all over the world), from IMF leader-turned-traitor, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight). Max is part of the film’s final sequence on the bullet train, as Luther (Ving Rhames) has to block her laptop’s modem (yes, the series is that old!) from transmitting the NOC list offsite. When Ethan eventually takes down Jim and his cohorts, Max is detained by CIA agent Kittridge (Henry Czerny), who quickly strikes up a deal for Max to avoid prison, in exchange for working with the agency.

It’s a great bit of casting for White Widow, as actress Vanessa Kirby perfectly echoes Redgraves attitude and mannerisms as Max – and both actresses are even named Vanessa! As for where this new character ends up in the film…

Warning – Mission: Impossible – Fallout Ending Spoilers Follow!

Mission Impossible 6 - Vanessa Kirby's White Widow is Max's Daughter

At the end of Fallout, White Widow follows in her mother’s footsteps. Ethan manages to identify that CIA hitman August Walker is actually John Lark, and takes him out in time to stop Lark and Solomon Lane’s terrorist attack. Instead of White Widow being arrested, she and her brother are revealed to be working with CIA Hawk Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett), in order to handle off-the-books operations for the agency. Their most recent assignment? The discreet delivery of Solomon Lane into the hands of MI6, in order to clear Isla Faust’s (Rebecca Ferguson) debt.

In the end, the implication is that White Widow will be part of a network that Ethan and the IMF will have to work with again in the future, begging the question of if and how her origin might come into play.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is now playing in theaters.

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