Top Gun was a cultural phenomenon – can Maverick even come close?

Published: July 23, 2019

For moviegoers of this generation, it’s hard to underscore just how big of a cultural phenomenon Top Gun was when it came out in 1986. In many ways, it still is; evident by how people endlessly give reference to it and its characters, or how nostalgic they get at the sound of its smash-hits such as Take My Breath Away and Danger Zone.

Top Gun’s success, however, is attributed most to the fact that it was the ultimate high-concept film for that era: a striking and easily communicable plot-line starring the number one heartthrob of the time in the lead role. It consisted of a romantic sub-plot that most audiences easily connected with, a good measure of nationalistic fervour, exciting action sequences, a highly memorable soundtrack, and well, fighter jets. All these elements meshed together to create a film that went above and beyond its actual merits. Frankly speaking, Top Gun is a pretty by-the-numbers and cliched action film, but the way it was made and the time it was released in turned out to be major factors behind making it a cultural phenomenon.

Thirty-four years later, the film is finally getting the sequel people wanted decades ago.  Seeing how Top Gun launched Tom Cruise’s career and pretty much made him the movie star he is today, it’s not hard to see why the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is his passion project. Both Cruise and the producers of the film have been very careful to not reveal any details about the movie. All we know is that Cruise is a maverick working as a flight instructor for the US military, reportedly mentoring the son of his friend, Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw, who died in the previous film.

In every way, it seems like a sincere effort on Cruise’s, producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s and director Joseph Kosinski’s part to continue the legacy of the first film. Besides getting a chance to see how the story is updated, there’s also the excitement of seeing Cruise return to one of his most iconic roles. Val Kilmer is also returning as Iceman, while Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Ed Harris, Jon Hamm and Glen Powell are also part of the star-studded cast. All in all, there are plenty of reasons to get excited for the sequel.

The trailer of Top Gun: Maverick, however, does not reveal much. In one of the couple of dialogues, Harris passes a snarky remark about how Cruise is a captain instead of a two-star admiral, despite having served a long time in the military, to which Cruise responds with terming it as “one of life’s great mysteries”. But apart from this, the trailer only gives us snippets and shots of events that are bound to be registered in the minds of the audience. Think of them as the cinematic equivalent of buzzwords. So what you get in this two-minute trailer are shots of Cruise shirtless, shots of Cruise riding a bike and shots of Cruise flying a jet, coupled with some shots of fighter jets flying in unison. In all fairness, the film probably promises more Cruise than Top Gun, but then again, he really is the most essential piece of the project.

Top Gun: Maverick releases June 26, 2020.

(All GIFs: Giphy)

Khalid Rafi

Khalid Rafi

The author enjoys writing and is passionate about Pakistan Cricket. He tweets @TheKhalidRafi (

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