Has anyone saved mankind on more occasions than Tom Cruise?
Probably not. Since the 80s, Tom has been best known for starring in massive action blockbusters where, more often than not, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Tomorrow sees the release of Oblivion, the latest film in what should really be its own genre right now ― Tom Cruise Saves The World ― and while we can’t be sure that it ends with Katie Holmes’ couch-jumping ex rescuing innocents from some oppressive force, we’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that that’s probably the case. Maybe even all of our money.
So in honor of his latest film, check out our round-up of all the other ways Tom Cruise has saved us!
1. Legend (1985)
Tom plays Jack, a “forest child” who must battle the unicorn-killing Lord of Darkness (played by go-to evildoer Tim Curry) with the power of sunlight, saving not just mankind but also faeries, goblins, and the like. And, of course, unicorns! This maybe not exactly Tom’s butchest “saving of the world,” but look how pretty he is!
2. Top Gun (1986)
Tom took a “highway to the danger zone” (never mind that a pilot has no need for highways) as the Naval fighter pilot Maverick. In the film’s climax, he helps to get rid of a group of enemy MiGs that, well… Top Gun stays apolitical by never revealing who the enemy is, exactly, but we can only assume they had some nefarious plot that Tom Cruise helped derail.
3. Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)
It’s debatable whether or not participating in the Vietnam War helped to save mankind or just, you know, made everything worse. But either way, he’s covered ― Tom plays real-life wheelchair-bound veteran Ron Kovic, who launches a crusade against President Nixon trying to stop the war.
4. Mission: Impossible (1996)
Ethan Hunt probably needs no introduction, but here it is anyway ― the adaptation of the 60s TV series introduces us to the revamped IMF. There’s a mole (or two) sabotaging the good work of the agency, but of course tricky Tom manages to suss it all out and save the day (while flying a helicopter through a train tunnel, no less!).
5. Mission: Impossible II (2000)
After a four year-break from planet-saving shenanigans in order to concentrate on more Oscar-friendly roles like those in Jerry Maguire and Magnolia, Tom returned to what he does best: the impossible. He hooks up with Thandie Newton (in more ways than one) to stop the spread of a super deadly disease called Chimera, which kills its victim within 20 hours.
6. Minority Report (2002)
In the year 2054, “PreCogs” are used to foretell murders and stop crimes from happening. The trouble is, the guy running the division is a corrupt murderer himself. Luckily, one of the cops is none other than Tom Cruise, who has a knack for sniffing out a conspiracy. In the end, the PreCrime division is shut down, thus preventing more people from being harmed by the flawed system.
7. The Last Samurai (2003)
Did you know that a Tom Cruise-like American dude totally had a major influence on 19th century Japanese history? Well… historical accuracy aside, this film depicts Tom as jaded American soldier who gets swept up in samurai culture ― allowing for the Easternization of Tom Cruise alongside the Westernization of Japan. Tom’s influence stops the Japanese Emperor from signing a detrimental treaty with an American ambassador, allowing Japan to hold onto more of its culture and traditions. Go Tom! Japan owes you one!
8. War Of The Worlds (2005)
Tom Cruise is just a lowly blue collar dock worker (yeah, right) whose running-like-hell skills come in handy when some seriously nasty extra-terrestrials decide to eliminate the human population so they can have the planet to themselves. But since Tom never met a challenge he didn’t like, he manages to help other survivors escape from the human-harvesting Tripods before Earth’s microorganisms eliminate the aliens... juuust in time for a happy ending. (This is a Steven Spielberg movie, after all.)
9. Mission: Impossible III (2006)
You know, these missions keep happening, and as it turns out, they’re not so impossible after all! This time around, Ethan has retired and married the fetching Michelle Monaghan, but that doesn’t stop a villainous Philip Seymour Hoffman from roping him in for another mission. J.J. Abrams’ contribution to the franchise co-stars Keri Russell (of course!) as an ill-fated protégé of Ethan’s, and has him seeking out the mysterious “Rabbit’s Foot” ― which we never learn much about, but obviously is bad news if the wrong hands get ahold of it. Can you guess who saves the day?
10. Valkyrie (2008)
You know, even Tom Cruise fails to save mankind every now and then. Though the real-life plot to assassinate Hitler obviously didn’t pan out, the real-life character he plays in this film was able to organize a number of anti-Hitler Germans to an almost successful attempt to wipe out the Fuhrer and end WWII. Unfortunately, he and many of his cohorts were executed for their troubles… but it’s the thought that counts, right?
11. Knight & Day (2010)
You might think, based on the cutesy title, that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz play characters named Knight and Day in this spy thriller. You’d be mistaken. Tom plays Roy Miller, whose birth name is Matthew Knight. (There’s still no one named Day, though.) This is basically a Mission: Impossible movie in spirit, with Tom as a rogue secret agent of some kind who takes along the guileless innocent Cameron in a quest to stop bad guys from obtaining a perpetual energy battery called the Zephyr. Tom manages to save mankind... but why couldn’t he save us from the awful pun in the title while he was at it?
12. Mission: Impossible ― Ghost Protocol (2011)
The fourth – and arguably most fun ― Mission: Impossible sees Ethan take on a protégé in Jeremy Renner after being accused of blowing up the Kremlin. This time around, they’re on the hunt for a Swedish nuclear strategist who wants to blow up the world just for the hell of it. It leads to a pretty awesome sequence set in (and outside of) a very tall hotel in Dubai.
13. Jack Reacher (2012)
Tom takes on an iconic literary character this time, but still is essentially just playing that stronger, faster, and probably taller version of himself he always plays when the world’s in jeopardy. Here, a sniper shooting leads him to take on a group of crooked Russian businessmen ― which he does, without much trouble.
14. Oblivion (2013)
The latest Tom Cruise vehicle sees him go back to the future (2077 this time) as one of the last men on Earth after most of humanity has fled elsewhere. The movie opens tomorrow so we won’t spoil how (or if) Tom manages to save the world, but c’mon. It’s Tom Cruise.
15. All You Need Is Kill (2014)
In case you think Tom Cruise is planning to retire from his world-saving soon, guess again. Though it won’t be out for a full year, Tom’s next impossible mission is another battle with aliens, in which he is caught in a time loop that forces him to experience the day he is killed in battle over and over and over. What are the odds, do you think, that he eventually finds a way to reverser his fate and beat the bad guys? (There’s also a fifth Mission: Impossible in the works.)
Which of Tom's world-savings is your fave?