It’s become more common nowadays for popular movies to score sequels/follow-ups decades later. In fact, the most commercially successful movie of 2022 falls into this “legacyquel” category, with Top Gun: Maverick soaring past $1 billion worldwide on top of earning critical acclaim. So how did Tom Cruise arrange for his return to the role Pete “Maverick” Mitchell? According to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, it was as simple as calling Paramount Pictures and telling the studio he was doing it.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jerry Bruckheimer on behalf of the Top Gun: Maverick digital rollout. After noting how the sequel had been in development since 2010 and hit a setback when Tony Scott, the original Top Gun’s director who’d been slated to reprise his helming duties, died in 2012, I asked Bruckheimer at what point he and the other creative minds behind Maverick decided that it was still worth moving forward with the movie. He responded:
Tom Cruise was specifically working on Mission: Impossible — Fallout when Joseph Kosinski, who’d previously worked with Cruise on Oblivion, came into the picture with his pitch for Top Gun: Maverick. Again, the sequel to the 1986 hit had been in development for a while at this point, but Cruise wanted to make it clear to Kosinski that Maverick would only get off the ground (pun fully intended) is if his co-stars went through flight training and actually joined him in the sky. Once Kosinski agreed this was the right course of action, Cruise called up the Paramount bigwigs and told them he was ready to make Maverick.
Along with wanting legitimate flying on display in Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise also stipulated that he wouldn’t do the movie unless Val Kilmer returned too. Kilmer starred as rival-turned-wingman Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in the original Top Gun, and along with reprising the character in Maverick, the actor also “cracked” how Iceman could be thrown into the mix. Here’s what Jerry Bruckheimer said to me about Maverick’s emotional scene between Cruise and Kilmer:
Spoiler warning for those of you who haven’t seen Top Gun: Maverick, but the reunion between the title protagonist and Iceman is made all the more heart-wrenching when shortly after their meeting, Iceman, who was suffering from throat cancer, passed away. But as Jerry Bruckheimer sees it, getting one last scene between Maverick and Iceman is one of the key ways that the Top Gun sequel has been welcomed with so much positive reception. Maybe there’s a reality somewhere in the multiverse where Maverick never moved forward, but fortunately for fans of this property, we live in the reality where it’s been a massive success across the board.
While Top Gun: Maverick is available to buy on digital platforms now, it’s also continuing its theatrical run for the foreseeable future. The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD releases will follow on November 1, and the sequel is also expected to become available for Paramount+ subscribers to stream at some point. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for news about other 2022 movie releases and what’s coming up on the 2023 release schedule.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.