Top Gun Maverick: What You Need to Know

Released back in 1986, action-drama Top Gun has worked its way up to legendary status over the decades. Even though it hit cinemas to mixed reviews from critics, audiences loved the action sequences and performances put in by the likes of Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Kelly McGillis, and Val Kilmer.

Now, 34 years later, Top Gun 2, officially known as Top Gun: Maverick, is coming to the big screen. The long-awaited sequel, which has been delayed from this summer to the winter, might just be one of the most highly-anticipated movies on the slate.

But why is the return of naval aviator Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell such a huge cinematic event?

The legacy of Top Gun

Having been released in a golden age of action flicks, when the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were running wild with smash-hit action movies, some may have thought that Top Gun, with diminutive star Cruise at the forefront, would fade into the background. However, the incredible cinematics captured the attention of audiences all over, with the film becoming a part of pop-culture. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress decided to preserve Top Gun in the National Film Registry due to it being historically, aesthetically, and culturally significant.

Very strange for the time, and even in the modern-day, the hit action movie didn’t get a sequel despite reeling in over $350 million at the worldwide box office. Due to a 1991 US Navy scandal and the death of director Tony Scott, attempts to create a sequel were continually stifled. However, the status of the film has been upheld thanks to its legacy in pop-culture across several different mediums, and even its reverence among military recruits.

At the time, Top Gun was being used in naval recruitment videos, with the number of people applying to become aviators increasing significantly. Furthermore, the sales of bomber jackets and Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses, both of which are donned in Top Gun, saw a huge increase in sales. From there, it continued to be embedded in pop-culture through comedic interpretation in movies like Hot Shots!, in Quentin Tarantino’s monologue within Sleep With Me, and by Team America: World Police.

Being a film that’s filled with action and excitement, it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the gaming scene jumped on the IP as soon as it possibly could. 

In 1986, the Top Gun game came to the Commodore 64 and Atari ST, with another Top Gun title coming to the NES in the following year – which was followed by a sequel in 1990. Even more Top Gun games were released on PC, Nintendo, and PlayStation consoles over the ensuing decades, with 2015 seeing the most recent release – the Top Gun slot game becoming available at online gaming platforms.

Top Gun: Maverick isn’t far away

Tom Cruise returns in a sequel that looks no-less aesthetically stunning than the original, with the trailers leaning on the aerial action and plane combat sequences that are bound to entice the modern audience. The sequel sees Cruise and Kilmer reprising their roles, with Miles Teller, John Hamm, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Lewis Pullman, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, and Manny Jacinto joining the fray.

Top Gun: Maverick takes place 30 years removed from where Top Gun left off, but Maverick is still one of the best test pilots in the US navy, thanks to him sidestepping any potential advancement that would clip his wings.

However, when brought in to train pilots for a brand new, incredibly specialised mission, he encounters the son of his late friend, Goose – played by Miles Teller (Project X, Whiplash, Only the Brave) – who is one of the pilots assigned to the incredibly dangerous mission.

Joseph Kosinski directs the sequel, but it still has producer Jerry Bruckheimer on board. Kosinski has directed Tron: Legacy, Oblivion, and Only the Brave, with Oblivion not only being directed, produced, and written by Kosinski, but also its graphic novel source material being Kosinski’s work. 

Of course, Oblivion also starred Tom Cruise, so the director and lead actor have a bit of familiarity on set, as do Kosinski and Teller from Only the Brave. Most importantly, Kosinski has proven his ability to handle high-paced, heavy action movies – which is exactly what a Top Gun sequel needs.

Top Gun: Maverick is penned to hit theatres on 23 December 2020, but that will undoubtedly depend on if the United States is fit to stage such a premiere again by that time.