Get ready to feel the need for speed all over again. After years of rumors, Top Gun: Maverick is officially flying into theaters more than three decades since the 1986 film premiered. Original star Tom Cruise is returning for the sequel, and he won’t be the only familiar face in the film.
We got our first, official trailer for the movie in July 2019, and a second trailer arrived in mid-December. With Maverick currently scheduled to hit theaters in December 2020, here’s everything we know about the Top Gun sequel so far.
- Title: Top Gun: Maverick
- Release date: December 23, 2020
- Cast: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm
- Director: Joseph Kosinski
No CGI, no problem
In keeping with Tom Cruise’s preference for practical effects when it comes to his films’ stunts, director Joseph Kosinski and the Maverick cast and creative team have offered up some impressive examples of just how far they’re going for a good shot.
In June, studio Skydance Media posted a short video of the camera team getting a shot of a low-flying fighter jet in the desert, piloted by Cruise himself.
— Skydance (@Skydance) June 10, 2020
Originally scheduled to hit theaters in July 2019, Top Gun: Maverick had its premiere pushed back almost a year by Paramount Pictures. The studio eventually announced a June 26, 2020, release date for the film, only to push it up to June 24 in early March. A month later, the film’s release date was then shifted again due to the coronavirus pandemic that closed theaters around the world.
Top Gun: Maverick is currently scheduled to hit theaters December 23, 2020.
Super Bowl spot
Paramount released a new, pulse-pounding TV spot during Super Bowl LIV. The high-octane, stressful trailer teases Maverick’s fate as a voice-over explains that he is potentially facing court-martial and a dishonorable discharge. This is interspersed with Maverick’s heavy breathing as he pilots a fighter jet at death-defying speeds.
In conjunction with a new interview with Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski, Entertainment Weekly has obtained new images from the upcoming sequel to the 1986 action hit.
In the images, we see some of the new hot-shot pilots that Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell will help maximize their skills. Unlike in the first movie, these pilots are already graduates of the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (a.k.a. Top Gun).
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) January 29, 2020
According to Kosinski, “In our film, these are all Top Gun graduates who are coming back for a special training detachment — which is another aspect of Top Gun where they can go back for specialized training after they’ve already graduated. They’re at a different level of experience than in the first film.”
Actors pushed to the limit
A behind-the-scenes featurette shows how director Joseph Kosinski staged some of the fighter pilot footage and how physically grueling the work was for the actors. Tom Cruise and other Top Gun: Maverick cast members look to be deeply uncomfortable or even ready to vomit in the footage.
The production team put six IMAX-quality cameras in the cockpit as the cast went through flight training with the U.S. Navy. It’s clear that with notorious daredevil Cruise attached, the entire cast was expected to learn to fly, no matter how hard the struggle.
On December 16, 2019, Paramount released a new trailer for the Top Gun sequel (see above). This one spends more time in the cockpit with Tom Cruise’s character, opening on the ace pilot making some risky flight maneuvers as a voiceover explains to the training program’s students (and reminds us, the audience) that this is one of the finest pilots to ever come out of the Top Gun flight academy.
Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is back at Top Gun as an instructor, and he appears to be a hands-on teacher, inviting students to practice dogfighting by taking him on two at a time. As you might expect, the recruits are shocked out of their amusement fairly quickly as Maverick shows why he’s so highly regarded.
The trailer also pays homage to many of the classic scenes of the first film: Pilots singing at a bar, the occasional brawl, Maverick riding his motorcycle at high speed with a new love interest (Jennifer Connelly) hanging on, and even some beach sports — although this time, it looks like it’s going to football, not volleyball, for the aspiring Top Gun students.
The first footage
Tom Cruise himself introduced the first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick (see below) during San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019. The preview of the film not only showed off Cruise’s return as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, but also teased some of the impressive flight sequences that have been generating a lot of buzz.
A month earlier, audiences at the CineEurope 2019 trade show were treated to the first footage from Top Gun: Maverick, with two minutes of scenes from the film shown to attendees.
The footage was introduced by Mark Viane, Paramount Pictures’ president of International Theatrical Distribution, and Mary Daily, co-president of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, who stepped out on stage in full flight gear after the floor of the theater filled with mist. No description of the footage was released, but it reportedly received a positive response.
In a May 2019 interview with Collider, actor Jon Hamm had nothing but praise for the high-tech filmmaking techniques intended to give Maverick audiences an in-the-cockpit experience.
“They’re using some technology on this that has never before seen,” said Hamm. “We’re shooting the movie in, I think, 6K. So it’s incredibly hi-def. The aerial footage is mind-blowing. And it’s mostly practical. There’s not a lot of CG. Those guys are really up in planes and getting thrown around in multiple Gs.”
On May 31, 2018, Cruise posted a photo on Twitter from the first day of production on the Top Gun sequel. The photo features Cruise back in Maverick’s flight suit, with the superimposed tagline “Feel the Need” giving nostalgic fans exactly what they’re looking for.
The film brings back original Top Gun star Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the hotshot pilot character that helped make Cruise a superstar. He’ll be joined by Val Kilmer, reprising his role as Maverick’s rival, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky.
As for the actor filling one of the film’s primary legacy roles, Whiplash actor Miles Teller will portray the son of Maverick’s former wingman, Goose, who was played by Anthony Edwards in the first film. Teller was seen on set with Cruise in some December 2018 photos that reveal the mustache he’ll be sporting for the film — Teller’s look clearly inspired by Edwards’ impressively ’80s facial hair.
Tom Cruise and Miles Teller Spotted Filming “Top Gun: Maverick” in Lake Tahoe
— Hollywood Pipeline (@HlywdPipeline) December 15, 2018
Teller and Hidden Figures actor Glen Powell were the final two contenders for the role. Despite Teller winning the part, Powell’s audition reportedly impressed the Top Gun producers enough to earn him a different, unidentified role in the film.
In July 2018, A Beautiful Mind actress Jennifer Connelly (below) was reported to be in talks to play the female lead in the film. The Academy Award winner is expected to play a single mother who runs a local bar near the naval base where the story is set.
The danger zone got a little more crowded in August with a flurry of additional cast members added to the project. Mad Men actor Jon Hamm and four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris (Westworld) were among the most high-profile additions to the cast, joining the film in unidentified roles.
Also added to the cast that month was Lewis Pullman (the son of actor Bill Pullman), as well as Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) as the daughter of Connelly’s character; Charles Parnell (A Million Little Pieces) as an admiral; Bashir Salahuddin (GLOW) as an engineer; and the trio of Jay Ellis (Insecure), Danny Ramirez (Assassination Nation), and Monica Barbaro (The Good Cop) as pilots.
Paramount Pictures isn’t revealing too many details about the sequel’s plot, but the story is rumored to explore the relationship between human pilots and unmanned drones in the modern military. Given the film’s working title, Top Gun: Maverick, it’s expected that Cruise’s pilot character will be at the center of the story — likely fighting to affirm the value of human pilots.
The film will reunite Cruise with Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski, who also directed 2010’s TRON: Legacy. Paramount Pictures confirmed Kosinski as the film’s director in a July 2017 announcement that also revealed the film’s initial July 2019 release date. Perhaps just as notably, the original film’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, is also behind the scenes for the sequel.
Kenny Loggins is planning to record a new version of his song Danger Zone for the Top Gun sequel. The original film featured a memorable montage of flight clips set to Danger Zone, and Loggins indicated that he’s hoping to team up with a young rock musician or band to give the song new life in Top Gun: Maverick.
Updated on June 11, 2020: Added new release date and behind-the-scenes video.