Top Gun: Maverick won’t be a sad “Logan” style story dwindling over Lieutenant Pete Mitchell’s (Tom Cruise) past mistake. The sequel’s trailer assures of Maverick’s vibrant essence – even so, the test pilot will face the consequences of his past in Miles Tiller’s Rooster, son of Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw’s son (Anthony Edwards).
For many years (thirty-six to be specific), Cruise has shared his uncertainty about doing a follow-up project to Top Gun but here we are in 2022 with Top Gun: Maverick about a month away from its premiere. The sequel to Tony Scott’s iconic 1986 action thriller will see Maverick training a new set of fighter jet pilots for a do-or-die mission. Among those pilots is Rooster, Maverick’s wingman who unfortunately died in the original movie.
Speaking to Empire for its June 2022 issue, Cruise stressed the need to keep Top Gun 2’s story fresh, to allow his character to explore new grounds and establish his trust among a new group of people. He also mentioned Teller’s commitment to his pivotal role when asked to show Goose’s essence in his character.
“I didn’t want to do a cover of Top Gun. I wanted a fresh story and tone. I wanted to feel and earn this relationship. If you look at what Miles Teller [Rooster] brings, he showed up with the moustache and he just looks like that character. I said to him, “I want to feel Goose and his wife in this character.”
Teller also reiterated the importance of exploring Rooster’s own new bond with Maverick as well as taking up his father’s mantle. “Certainly, being Goose’s son, and being reconnected to Maverick, is pretty interesting. Between following in his father’s footsteps and this relationship with Maverick, there’s a lot to explore.”
Goose’s son is the element that pulls Maverick in Top Gun 2, says director
Interestingly, Top Gun: Maverick’s Rooster arc and its emotional stakes with Maverick in the loop seems to be what pulled Cruise to the sequel. Director Joseph Kosinski spoke of the connection element stating:
“The notion of Rooster growing up as a naval aviator, and the jeopardy that puts him in… it’s a dangerous job. I think that was the thing that really hooked Tom from a story point of view,” said Kosinski. “Using Goose’s son as the element that would pull Maverick back into Top Gun seemed like the perfect emotional hook.”
Cruise’s long-time collaborator Christopher McQuarrie also echoed the emotional element of Top Gun 2 though he reminds the need to be careful when picking up elements from Mitchell’s past, particularly in addressing Goose’s story.
“There’s an element of tension that runs through the relationship that, if handled wrong, means you become very frustrated with the characters. It’s a fine line to walk,” said McQuarrie. “Maverick is formed by this past, but he’s not haunted by it. He’s not the sad guy who never got over the death of his friend, but the death of his friend has created consequences in his life that he never anticipated.”
Fortunately, the entire creative team, including Cruise were all on the same page on how they wanted Maverick’s story to be told. What keeps him stuck as a test pilot remains the heart of Maverick but it can’t be a repetition of the original.
“I said, “Maverick has still got to be Maverick. Maverick is instinctual. He just can’t help putting his foot over the line.” To me, that’s who that guy is,” said Cruise. “But it can’t be what it was in ’86.” McQuarrie also added sharing the same sentiment:
“What sequels tend to do is beat the shit out of characters so they can just repeat their same journey of self-discovery. Tom didn’t want Maverick to start in a sad place and have to fight his way out of it. He came to it with a very clear sense of, “I want to know that for 30 years while I’ve gone off and done whatever I did in my life, Maverick stayed Maverick.”
The last trailer is proof of the above statements as it shows Maverick still living his dream as a Captain with no promotions. Meanwhile, his fellow rival, Val Kilmer’s Tom ‘Iceman” Kazansky is an admiral. Will Maverick move on after training Goose and the new recruits? Well, the answer lies in theatres on May 27, 2022.
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