WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Mission: Impossible — Fallout, in theaters now.
Jeremy Renner's role in Mission: Impossible has been crucial in helping Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt save the world. His character William Brandt is a field operations director with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), and one of Hunt's biggest allies, as shown in the fourth and fifth installments in the franchise, 2011's Ghost Protocol and 2015's Rogue Nation.
However, Brandt is nowhere to be found in director Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, due to scheduling conflict caused by Renner's role in Marvel's upcoming sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. The character isn't even mentioned.
That said, amid all the spy drama, betrayal and deaths, Fallout easily creates an opening for the return of Renner's character.
Hunt's new mission is to recover nuclear bombs being armed by the Apostles, the new name for the villains introduced in Rogue Nation. That leads to an intriguing dynamic between the IMF, led by Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), and new CIA Director Erica Sloan (Angela Basset). The latter believes Hunt is a hothead, and she wants her agent, August Walker (Henry Cavill), to oversee the operation, and even kill Hunt if he compromises the mission.
Hunley reluctantly agrees, placing the safety of the world first. Hunt and Walker discover the Apostles' nuclear scheme is engineered by a terrorist known as John Lark. Sadly, no one has actually ever seen Lark. Sloan suspects Lark may be Hunt, finally breaking after years of going rogue, while Hunt is running out of time to find the true mastermind, growing suspicious of the CIA along the way.
That leads to Hunley meeting the team in London to shut the project down after their seemingly futile search results in collateral damage. Hunt rebels, and in a brilliant ruse, uses Hunley and Sloan to unearth Lark's true identity: none other than Cavill's Walker. Sadly, Sloan has already dispatched a team to bring in her double agent, as well as the IMF squad, as she simply can't trust anyone any longer. But in the ensuing fracas, Walker stabs Hunley who, with his final breath, urges Hunt to stop the Apostles.
That means the IMF can bring back Brandt and promote him from field director, to succeed Hunley, with whom he worked closely. In Ghost Protocol, Brandt was a former field operative who retired behind a desk, so he knows both aspects -- the diplomatic side and the practical operations.
It's also easy to explain why he wasn't involved in Fallout, as he could have been overseeing another mission elsewhere, especially as this joint initiative was kept a secret due to CIA involvement.
Brandt has been a trusted part of Hunt's team, making him a natural choice to succeed Hunley, especially if the IMF is to finish hunting down the remaining Apostles.
In theaters nationwide, director Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible — Fallout stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, joined by returning actors Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, with Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Sian Brooke and Frederick Schmidt.