Top Gun: Maverick -- Everything We Know About the Tom Cruise Sequel

If you still have the need for speed, come fly with Maverick and his pal Goose's son 36 years after the original film.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
4 min read

Not many films get a sequel nearly four decades after the original. But then, not many movies are Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 Tom Cruise action film.

The basics

Talk of a Top Gun sequel has been zooming around since 2010. Maverick was one of Tom Cruise's iconic action-star roles, gleaming teeth and all. Though he's now 59, Cruise hasn't exactly slowed down on the action-movie front, as his Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher roles have shown. 

In this film, Cruise's Maverick is now a flight instructor who mentors Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller), the son of his late friend Goose from the first film. And Maverick has his own issues, just like in the first film. An early trailer shows Ed Harris telling him, "You should be at least a two-star admiral by now. Yet here you are, captain. Why is that?"

Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson produced the original Top Gun, with Tony Scott (the brother of Ridley Scott) directing. Tony Scott and Bruckheimer were both onboard with the new film, but Scott died by suicide in 2012. Bruckheimer is still a producer on the sequel, as is Cruise. Joseph Kosinski, who directed Tron: Legacy, is directing the sequel.

Release date, production info

The original release date was set for July 2019, but that has shifted numerous times, and now the film is set to hit theaters May 27, 2022.

The film is set 34 years after the original, and due to film delays, 36 years will have passed when the sequel comes out, so we're vaguely in real time here.

Cruise shared an image from the first day of filming on May 31, 2018. Filming locations reportedly included San Diego; the USS Abraham Lincoln in Norfolk, Virginia; South Lake Tahoe, California; and California's Indian Wells Valley.

Cast: Who's who?

One actor who won't be returning? Kelly McGillis, who played Maverick's love interest Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood in the first film, said in July 2019 that she wasn't asked to be in the sequel. McGillis, 62, told Entertainment Tonight why she thinks that's the case.

"I'm old and I'm fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about," McGillis reportedly said. She added that while she doesn't know Connelly, she is "so glad that she got that opportunity."


CNET's Richard Trenholm wrote that while he didn't have high hopes for the film, critics seem to love it.

Fandango's Erik Davis called the film, "absolutely terrific in every conceivable way. The action & flying is crazy intense & continually changes & evolves. You're on the edge of your seat. I was not prepared for how emotional it was, too. The crowd cheered a dozen times. It's real deal."

Forbes critic Scott Mendelson was a little more measured in his response, writing, "Top Gun: Maverick offers interesting parables for Tom Cruise asserting his movie star dominance in a changing industry, and some strong aerial footage. Alas, it's otherwise a deeply generic/formulaic follow-up that's dependent on "80s hit = cultural myth" nostalgia."

Musical choices

One of the memorable moments from the original film was Kenny Loggins' song Danger Zone, which became a huge radio hit in 1986. Loggins said in 2018 that Cruise told him, "of course" Danger Zone needed to be in the sequel, and it reportedly is.

But that's not the only big song. Lady Gaga tweeted on April 27 that her new single, Hold My Hand, will be featured in the movie.

"When I wrote this song for 'Top Gun: Maverick,' I didn't even realize the multiple layers it spanned across the film's heart, my own psyche, and the nature of the world we've been living in," Gaga wrote. "I've been working on it for years, perfecting it, trying to make it ours. 

Fun facts about the plot

Drones and modern warfare

Back in 2014, Bruckheimer said the sequel would be updated to reflect today's military world. "The concept is, basically, are the pilots obsolete because of drones," he said then. "Cruise is going to show them that they're not obsolete. They're here to stay."

Hamming it up

Co-star Jon Hamm says the action sequences will be impressive. "They're using some technology on this that is never before seen," Hamm told Jo Blo. "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."


Hamm also told Jo Blo that the sequel sets are very close to the original. "It's basically getting the whole team back together," he said. "They've achieved a very similar vibe to the first one."

Come fly with me

Cruise said at Comic-Con 2019 that the film is a love letter to aviation and agreed with Hamm that the sequences aren't computer-generated. "Everything you see in this film is for real," he said.

In plane sight

Popular Science Magazine published an entire article about the aircraft of the new film. The article explains that the "airplanes in the trailer, with one exception, are F/A-18 Super Hornets, a far cry from the jets Maverick and Goose flew into the danger zone in the 1986 film. Those were F-14 Tomcats, big, beloved, tough, fast airplanes the Navy no longer flies." 

The article also points out that Super Hornets don't require a dedicated radar operator and navigator: "Goose is now optional; his precise job doesn't exist anymore."

This post was originally published on Aug. 1, 2019, and will be updated as new information becomes available.