Top Gun 2 Should Actually Be Less Fun Than The Original – Screen Rant

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Tom Cruise hasn't taken on a mature role in a while, so Top Gun: Maverick being more serious than the original cult classic could be a good thing.

While the original blockbuster hit Top Gun is a fun, fast-paced action-adventure, Top Gun: Maverick should be a darker and more mature take on the same story. “Fun” is one of the words most associated with 1986’s Top Gun. A star vehicle for its young lead Tom Cruise, Top Gun was the tale of Maverick, a reckless test pilot with a need for speed and a desperate desire to take bigger risks than any high-flying military man before him.

This simple plot allowed director Tony Scott to make Top Gun a glossy, stunning action hit. Top Gun’s incredible box office performance alone proves that the original movie was a massive success with audiences, but few viewers came to Top Gun looking for something deep and meaningful. With a plot that felt more like a sports movie than a military drama (and screenwriters who invented pilot trophies and rankings to achieve and accentuate this lighter tone), Top Gun was a sunny, quotable blast of a summer blockbuster.

However, the long-awaited Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t need to recapture this sense of fun. Contrary to what some may want from the movie, Top Gun: Maverick’s status as a long-delayed sequel means the movie can address the advancing age of its antihero and delve deeper into the darkness at Maverick's core. While the original Top Gun was a fun, thrilling opportunity for its young star to make an impression, the highly hyped Top Gun: Maverick can be Cruise’s nostalgic, but equally elegiac, return to former glory. Admittedly, Top Gun is arguably the last franchise that many would expect to have a poignant late addition. However, Top Gun: Maverick addressing aging could be a good move for the sequel, much like the Fast & Furious series addressing star Paul Walker’s untimely real-life death resulted in the franchise’s most well-earned moment of authentic poignancy.

Why Top Gun 2 Looks Less Fun Than The Original

Top Gun Maverick Tom Cruise Funeral

It has been clear for a long time now (mostly due to the movie’s many delays putting years between its first trailer and its eventual release date), that Top Gun: Maverick will have a more somber tone than Top Gun. From the trailer’s funeral scene to the fact that Iceman now outranks Maverick (meaning the rivals-turned-friends duo doesn't work side-by-side anymore), Top Gun: Maverick is less of a bombastic thrill ride than its franchise predecessor, judging by its promotional materials alone. Combine this with the news that Miles Teller will play Rooster, Goose’s son, and it is even clearer that Top Gun: Maverick will concern itself with the long-term impacts of Maverick’s youthful mistakes. However, this may not be a bad thing.

Top Gun 2 Can Address Aging

Like Ghostbusters, Top Gun was a fun, silly ‘80s blockbuster that didn’t take itself too seriously. Ghostbusters made the afterlife something to laugh about at the height of the ‘80s horror boom, while Top Gun made the military a cool bunch of sports heroes at a time when public anger about Vietnam was producing dark, brutal movies like PlatoonFull Metal Jacket (a veritable anti-Top Gun), and Casualties of War. However, much like 2021’s belated sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife was able to tell a moving story about grief and loss in the franchise that gave viewers the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Top Gun: Maverick could make Maverick’s story into a more emotionally resonant one.

Maverick’s father dying in service before the original Top Gun’s events gets a requisite mention during Viper’s pivotal pep talk, but it’s not a focal point of the movie’s plot. However, with Maverick now reaching the age his father would have been in the original Top Gun, there’s an opportunity for Top Gun: Maverick to address this story more thoroughly. Maverick’s late father Duke could be key to Top Gun: Maverick as Cruise’s character reckons with his decision to focus on the risky work of being a test pilot over the decades rather than settling down with his former love interest Charlie, starting a family, and transitioning to a more stable, safer job.

Tom Cruise Has Proven Himself Between Top Gun 1 & 2

Tom Cruise Top Gun

The prospect of watching a self-serious drama with the kid from Risky Business wasn't a compelling one in 1986, but the thought of watching acclaimed actor Tom Cruise in a heavier role is an exciting one to contemporary audiences. Given how many times Cruise has impressed viewers in the interim, there’s no reason that Top Gun 2 needs to be as fun as the original Top Gun. Since a more mature movie gives the actor a welcome chance to display his dramatic range. Cruise has repeatedly proven he can turn in a compelling performance in his work with acclaimed directors ranging from Rob Reiner to Stanley Kubrick to Robert Redford, and Top Gun: Maverick presents the actor with another chance to show his serious side instead of relying on his blockbuster charisma. On that note, it has been a while since viewers saw this side of Cruise.

Cruise’s Dramatic Acting Break Explained

In recent years, flops like The Mummy and successes like the Mission: Impossible series has seen Cruise move away from more dramatic roles and back to action. Even 2017’s American Made was lighter in tone than the likes of Lord of War despite technically being a drama about the American military. While Cruise’s first billion-dollar movie may come from 2022’s new Mission: Impossible installments, this gives the actor a chance to turn in a more nuanced performance for Top Gun: Maverick. Where many blockbuster cinema audiences might have been disappointed by a more self-serious Top Gun: Maverick if it was the year’s only Cruise blockbuster, the fact that Cruise has consistently delivered high-octane blockbuster sequels even while taking a break from heavier acting roles proves that he is overdue a dramatic comeback. As such, it would be a welcome change for Top Gun: Maverick to eschew the original Top Gun’s focus on fun, allowing Cruise to use the movie’s darker themes as an opportunity to make a welcome return to dramatic work.

More: Why Jon Hamm’s Comments Are Good News For Top Gun 2

  • Top Gun: Maverick/Top Gun 2 (2022)Release date: May 27, 2022

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About The Author


Cathal Gunning
(1507 Articles Published)

Cathal Gunning has been writing about movies and TV online since 2020. His obsessions include The Simpsons, Stephen King, the Scream series, and the horror genre in general. He has spent more time thinking about Stranger Things than the writers of Stranger Things, and he has never seen a Star War.

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