It’s been more than 30 years since Tom Cruise first took our breath away in the 1986 action drama TOP GUN. Directed by the late Tony Scott, the film starred Cruise as a reckless young fighter pilot who trains — and nearly flames out — at a prestigious U.S. Naval academy. With a memorable soundtrack and an awesome supporting cast, TOP GUN became an instant classic.
Next summer, Cruise will head back into the danger zone, with both new and familiar faces, in TOP GUN: MAVERICK. This long-awaited sequel took 10 years to come together, but the A-list actor is ready to show off the fruits of their labor.
Buckle up for a look at how the movie finally got off the ground.
The Original Need for Speed
When Tom Cruise starred in TOP GUN, he was fresh off roles in RISKY BUSINESS and ALL THE RIGHT MOVES. The story, inspired by a magazine article about fighter pilots at San Diego’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, nicknamed “Fightertown USA,” was perfect for him.
Cruise played reckless pilot Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick, who is given a chance to train at the U.S. Navy’s Fighter Weapons School — also known as Top Gun. Maverick is joined by Radar Intercept Officer Nick Bradshaw, aka Goose, played by Anthony Edwards.
Also on deck is Val Kilmer as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, a top student, and Kelly McGillis as Charlie Blackwood, an astrophysicist and civilian flight instructor who catches Maverick’s eye.
Maverick and Iceman butt heads, leading to a tragic incident that nearly destroys Maverick’s confidence and his career. That’s not the end of the story, of course, and Maverick ends up in a climactic aerial battle with the sort of stunts that help create a stone-cold classic. So, why did the sequel take so long to come together?
Back to the Danger Zone
A sequel to TOP GUN was first proposed in 2010, with Tony Scott interested in returning to direct Tom Cruise in the new installment. Just two years later, tragedy struck: Scott died, leaving the future of the TOP GUN sequel in doubt.
Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the original, in addition to Cruise’s film DAYS OF THUNDER, remained determined to get the TOP GUN sequel into the air. He wasn’t alone: Cruise and original co-star Val Kilmer were also excited to return. For years, Cruise and Bruckheimer teased the possibility of a sequel, but it started to seem like it might not happen.
Then, in 2017, Cruise appeared on “Access Hollywood” to reveal the title, TOP GUN: MAVERICK. A few weeks later, Joseph Kosinski — who directed Cruise in OBLIVION — was announced to direct the TOP GUN sequel. All systems, after years of waiting, were go.
New Faces, New World
Cruise is reprising his iconic role in the upcoming sequel, which explores the need for fighter pilots like Maverick in the era of military drones. Kilmer also returns as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky.
The duo, however, will have a full ensemble of new co-stars, like Ed Harris and Jon Hamm. TOP GUN: MAVERICK also features hotshot young performers like Miles Teller of FANTASTIC FOUR, who plays pilot trainee Bradley Bradshaw — the son of Maverick’s former partner, Goose. Also on board for the sequel are rising stars like Glen Powell (EVERYBODY WANTS SOME), Lewis Pullman (BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE) and Manny Jacinto (NBC’s “The Good Place”), while Jennifer Connelly will play a single mother who runs a bar at the Navy base.
The rest of the plot is largely being kept under wraps, though Harris makes it very clear in the full trailer posted above that Maverick has been an underachiever in the Navy and that his “time” in the service may be coming to a close. This footage makes MAVERICK look a lot like LOGAN, which showed an older, wiser and more grizzled Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to fans. If that’s what TOP GUN does for Cruise, we are 100 percent on board.
We’re ready to fly again! TOP GUN: MAVERICK leaves the runway on December 23, 2020.