Three decades after hitting the danger zone, Tom Cruise is locked on the sequel to 1986’s Top Gun.
Cruise, 54, recently confirmed that the follow-up is “definitely happening” and has continued to tease out details. He revealed the title, Top Gun: Maverick (“You don’t need a number”), while promising aviator sunglasses, aircraft carriers and “big, fast machines.”
Great start. But we have thoughts about what could — and maybe should — happen in Maverick.
Top Gun was overwhelmingly white and male, summarized by Iceman’s (Val Kilmer) jab at Maverick: “The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies’ room.” But this time around, Maverick is the senior flight instructor dealing with a genius pilot who has a chip on her shoulder. The military has evolved, allowing women to train as fighter pilots since 1993. So, too, has Cruise, welcoming strong female co-stars such as the sensational Emily Blunt, who knocked him around as Rita Vrataski in Edge of Tomorrow. We need that spirit in the cockpit.
Maverick faces Goose’s son
Carole Bradshaw (Meg Ryan) was heartbroken but understanding when her husband, radar intercept officer Goose (Anthony Edwards), died ejecting from the jet. Maverick was cleared of wrongdoing in the incident. But Bradshaw’s young son, glimpsed in happy family moments, could understandably still blame the brilliant-but-once-reckless pilot for a life without his father. Maverick, still pained by Goose’s death, must deal with the guilt resurfaced by the presence of his now-grown and resentful offspring.
Russia pays for its hacking
The Russians weren’t the main story line, but they were the foe that fueled the Cold War-era original. Sure enough, Russia has re-emerged with top villain status, worthy of a screen return. It’s not just their meddling in the 2016 election, it’s the global attitude. They have the ambition, the antagonism, the jets and swagger.
Drones can serve as a faceless menace
The Internet is obsessed with the prospect of a drone story line (though Cruise has dodged the question of whether unmanned flights will factor into the sequel). Are drones the next level of dogfighting? Maybe. But not without a last stand against human-flown jets instructed and flown by Maverick. The drones can fly, but they need to be robotic foes our pilots knock out of the sky. This time.
Maverick goes out in a blaze of glory
Goose’s death provided the original movie’s emotional punch, allowing for the full triumph at the end. The only way to recapture that resonance is if it’s Maverick’s final flight. He needs to go down heroically.
Maverick has matured and succeeded in his dreams of becoming a Top Gun instructor. But in our final conflict, the teacher is forced back into the cockpit, taking out foes with his young crew — but giving the greatest sacrifice of all to complete the mission. It’s a fitting end to the character arc, leaving fans in tears and quashing another 30 years of Top Gun sequel speculation.
The volleyball scene returns with a twist
Sure, it’s a moonshot. But Cruise did say that this would be a “competition” film. He didn’t say what kind of competition (though he has suggested there might be a volleyball scene). It’s time to reprise the iconic and oiled-up sandpit match.
Maverick would be wearing jeans (again), but now Wrangler Relaxed Fit. His teammate would be Wrangler spokesman Brett Favre, with Tom Hanks toting his Wilson volleyball. Their foes: Three-time Olympic champs Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. It’s not pretty how this ends.