Top Gun Maverick: Everything We Know About The Sequel To The ’80s Classic

Tom Cruise was already a well known young actor before 1986, with movies such as Risky Business, The Outsiders, and Legend marking him out as a rising talent. But it was the release of Top Gun that summer that made him a superstar. Directed by Tony Scott, Top Gun explored life amongst a group of trainee fighter pilots and mixed drama, romance, and incredible aerial action, with an era-defining soundtrack and career-making performance from Cruise. Top Gun was the most successful film of 1986 and despite the mixed reviews at the time, it is now one of the decade’s most-loved films.

Rumors of a potential sequel first emerged in 2015, and the following year, producer Jerry Bruckheimer confirmed that he and Cruise had discussed a new Top Gun movie. In May 2018, Cruise announced that Top Gun: Maverick had started production with a tweet showing his character of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell looking out across a runway at his F-14A Tomcat.

Cruise’s most successful franchise is, of course, the Mission Impossible movies; 20 years and six movies down the line, we know what to expect from a new M:I movie. Top Gun is different. 34 years between films is an eternity in sequel-obsessed Hollywood, and many viewers who will watch the movie next summer won’t have even been born when Top Gun was first released. So it will be fascinating to see how Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski balance the need to tell a new, modern story while still delivering the nostalgia hit expected by long-time fans. Although we’re still 11 months away from its release, we already know quite a bit about what to expect from the film. So here’s everything we know so far about Top Gun: Maverick…

Who’s coming back?

There’s one man without whom this movie could not exist. Top Gun is the film that made Tom Cruise one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and his decision to return to the role of Pete Mitchell 30 years later was a big deal. In terms of other cast members, the only other confirmed returning actor is Val Kilmer, who plays Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. However, it’s also been rumored that Tom Skerritt, who played Commander Mike “Viper” Metcalf might also make an appearance.

Who’s new?

Top Gun: Maverick has an impressive supporting cast, including Westworld’s Ed Harris as a tough admiral who comes into conflict with Maverick. Miles Teller (Whiplash) plays Bradley Bradshaw, son of “Goose” Bradshaw, Maverick’s close friend who met an unfortunate demise in the first movie, and there are also roles for Jennifer Connelly (Alita: Battle Angel) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Baby Driver).

Directing the action

The great Tony Scott directed the first movie, but he sadly died in 2012. The directorial reigns have been handed to Joseph Kosinski, who previously worked with Cruise on the sci-fi thriller Oblivion, as well as helming the 2012’s Tron sequel Tron: Legacy.

What’s the story?

Given we’re still 11 months from release, we don’t know too many plot specifics. However, Kosinski has previously spoken about how the movie will deal with the realities of combat and the military in an age of drones and advanced technology. “It’s just a different world now, so you can’t remake the first movie. It has to adapt,” he told “The Navy is very different now than it was in 1986. Back then, they hadn’t been in any war for 15 or 20 years at that point. Now, here in 2017, the Navy’s been at war for 20 years.” Expect the film to look at where an old-school pilot like Maverick fits into this world, and how he relates to the challenges of the younger recruits he now instructs.

Who are the writers?

There are four credited screenwriters on Top Gun: Maverick–Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren Singer. McQuarrie is the most notable name on the list, as he has a long association with Cruise, having written and directed Jack Reacher and the last two Mission Impossible movies. McQuarrie is also one of the top script doctors in Hollywood, who is brought in to do rewrites on troubled screenplays.

Cunning stunts

If there’s one thing we know about Tom Cruise it’s that he doesn’t fake it. So expect to see some amazing aerial photography and plenty of footage of the Cruiser actually flying planes. The star told fans at San Diego Comic-Con: “Everything you see in this film is for real. The flying, you know, we’re working with the Navy. All the flying you see in this picture is real. I really wanted to give you the experience of what it’s like to be inside that aircraft. It’s a love letter to aviation.”

Is there a trailer?

The first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick was revealed at SDCC last month. It was something of a surprise, as the movie was not scheduled to have a panel at the convention. But Cruise turned up to introduce the trailer to extremely excited fans. It’s a exciting two minutes that doesn’t reveal much plot, but delivers some spectacular fighter jet action, as well as reminding us of the thrilling, triumphant vibe of the original movie.

Hitting the skies

Top Gun: Maverick releases on July 17, 2020.

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