Tom Cruise is reprising as Maverick to Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to 1986’s Top Gun. The return of Maverick means he’s serving as the film’s lead once more. With the details of other supporting characters in relation to Cruise already confirmed, we actually know more about Maverick’s role in Top Gun 2 than some may think.
Directed by Tony Scott, Top Gun followed a group of young Navy pilots recruited into the elite Top Gun program. The story focused on Peter “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise), a cocky young man who believed he was coming into the program already better than most pilots and ready to see action. Over the course of the film, Maverick has a rude awakening about what it means to be a pilot with the loss of best friend Goose and what it takes to be a good one. Top Gun 2 will evolve this story, returning to a Maverick who has served in the Navy for 30 years but risks becoming obsolete as the Navy continues to modernize amidst brutal wars and new recruits come in every year.
When it comes to figuring out what Maverick’s role in Top Gun 2 really is, you have to look at who else has been cast: Val Kilmer as Iceman, Jennifer Connelly in a still-unnamed role, and Miles Teller as Goose’s son, Bradley Bradshaw. Here’s what we know about Maverick’s Top Gun 2 role, including his work in the Navy and relationships with those closest to him.
Thanks to the Top Gun: Maverick trailer that premiered at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, we know Maverick is still a Navy pilot. Of course, that much was clear right from the beginning of production on Maverick in 2018 when the first photo was released showing Maverick is still in uniform, holding his helmet and looking out onto an airfield.
In the trailer, Ed Harris’ character, Maverick’s ostensible boss, notes in a one-on-one meeting that Maverick has served for 30 years but has never risen up through the ranks as he was expected. His record is impeccable, he’s had success in combat, and yet despite a notable record, Maverick remains a pilot. Sure, he’s a captain now, too, but that’s far below is potential.
Based on the information shared in the trailer, Maverick will be a bit more hardened. Having lived through and maybe even seen active duty during the various US conflicts in the past three decades, it’s hard not to become a changed man. But the trailer also shows Maverick’s still got that spitfire spirit he had during his early days as a Top Gun recruit. He’s going to need it if he wants to keep up with the new class.
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Val Kilmer’s Iceman is the only returning Top Gun alum in addition to Cruise. This means Iceman and Maverick’s bond will be a very special, layered one as Top Gun 2 depicts how the pair’s friendship has progressed since 1986. In the first film, these two men antagonized one another and were trying to outdo each other in the air and on the ground at every possible turn. It wasn’t until the final act that they recognized themselves in one another: they gave each other the respect deserved for being good pilots and, as it was implied, went on to be friends.
Since it’s unclear if Iceman is still working as a fighter pilot, has moved up the ranks, or has moved on to something else, it’s hard to gauge just how close he has remained with Maverick since the end of Top Gun. Where these two men ended up will no doubt inform audiences how they feel about one another and if there is still any tension between then. Maverick will always have a bond with Iceman, though.
However, it may be short-lived. The Top Gun 2 trailer focused on a funeral where Maverick was in attendance. Considering all the characters shown in the trailer, it seems quite possible that this is Iceman’s burial, with the former pilot’s death motivating Maverick’s journey.
Jennifer Connelly’s was cast to play the female lead in Top Gun: Maverick (whose name has yet to be publicized). Connelly’s character owns and operates a nearby bar that’s a favorite of the new class of Top Gun recruits, making it likely Top Gun 2 will mimic Maverick and Charlie’s Top Gun meet-cute in a bar. If it worked for the hot-shot pilot the first time around, why not try it again?
Photos of Connelly and Cruise riding on Maverick’s motorcycle made their way online in November 2018 from the Maverick set. The photos show the two coupled up and looking happy. Again, this recalls Charlie riding on the back of Maverick’s bike back in Top Gun. The repetition of these key moments hints Maverick will probably graft more of the Charlie-Maverick relationship DNA onto this new couple’s journey together.
Hopefully Maverick is a much different, more mature man in the present day than he was back in the early ’80s. Back then, Maverick was interested in Charlie but focused on becoming a pilot; it was clear his work would always win out. In the present day, it will interesting to see if Maverick is able to balance a career with a relationship. If so, his approach to romancing Connelly’s character will flow differently to his relationship with Charlie and add some freshness to the dynamic.
Miles Teller will play Goose’s son, Bradley Bradshaw, in Top Gun 2. Already, we know Maverick will have a bond with Bradley based on his past friendship with Goose, who died when Bradley was a baby. Chances are good Bradley will seek Maverick out for information about his father’s life as a fighter pilot and lean on Maverick in some capacity. Maverick will not only be able to give Bradley more information about his dad, but he’ll likely assume a mentor role as Bradley makes his way through the program.
What remains to be seen is the precise nature of their relationship in regards to their personalities. Will Bradley be the arrogant young pilot Maverick was, causing him to step in and keep Goose’s son on the right track? Will Bradley be more of rule-follower, a bit stiff in his approach and in need of a mentor to show him how to embrace the thrills of flying and life? There’s certainly more to Maverick’s relationship with Bradley and it will figure into the plot of Top Gun: Maverick.
Next: Everything We Know About Top Gun: Maverick