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Tom Cruise And Co. Open Up About Why The Return Of That Aviator Jacket Was Actually One Of Top Gun: Maverick’s ‘Biggest’ Creative Challenges

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Top Gun: Maverick is shaping up to be one of the most exciting new movie releases of 2022, and the trailers alone show us that making the highly anticipated sequel was no small task. Amid production, director Joseph Kosinski had to stage some incredible aerial combat sequences, and Tom Cruise and co. went through some insane flight training. However, there’s a smaller element of the story that actually made for one of the film’s “biggest” creative challenges: Maverick’s aviator jacket. And Cruise and the film’s co-writer, Christopher McQuarrie, have explained why this was the case. 

Fans of 1986’s Top Gun are no doubt familiar with the aviator jacket worn by Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The piece of clothing was a true fashion statement and surely had many, both those who were pilots and those who were not, fawning over it. Christopher McQuarrie was aware of its significance while crafting the story, though he found that Cruise had somewhat lukewarm feelings about it:

The biggest thing was the jacket. Tom was really struggling with the jacket. The jacket was a huge deal to a lot of people. Everybody was saying, ‘It’s a big part of who Maverick is!’ I thought, ‘I could barely describe the jacket to you.’ It’s not Indiana Jones’ hat. It’s not Superman’s cape. It’s an aviator jacket.

It’s honestly a bit surprising to hear that the coat would cause such a stir. The scribe/producer may be correct in saying that it’s not as iconic as other cinematic costumes, but it’s still legendary in its own right. Nevertheless, in the same interview with Empire Magazine, Tom Cruise admitted to not feeling too exciting about it:

I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. I’m not going to wear this! It was part of the legacy of the first one. How do you know what to leave out and what to add in?

When it comes to sequels it can be tricky to figure out how to integrate certain elements from the predecessor. This is arguably even more challenging when there’s been such a long gap of time between installments, as is the case with Top Gun. However, the group finally decided to bring in the accessory and found an organic way in which to do it. Tom Cruise revealed that in the movie, it’ll be explained that it’s Maverick’s “lucky jacket,” meaning he likely refuses to get rid of it. Christopher McQuarrie went on to say about its return:

Now, we have him open a closet and go into the back and pull the thing out and wear it for a special occasion. I said to Tom, ‘You wear the jacket, the jacket doesn’t wear you.’ Maverick is still Maverick, but he’s not stuck in the past.

This is definitely the kind of nostalgia I can get behind, and the movie is sure to deliver that to hardcore fans in a major way. While Tom Cruise and his collaborators are looking to change things up in interesting ways, they’re remaining faithful to the original movie in a number of ways. For instance, Cruise and co. were able to add in a fun throwback moment and bring back the actor’s co-star, Iceman actor Val Kilmer. And off camera, the producers honored the franchise’s legacy by screening the sequel for Ridley Scott, the brother of OG Top Gun director Tony Scott. 

There are high expectations for the new movie, and one can only hope that the movie “won’t disappoint,” as the cast has promised. But with the names involved both in front of and behind the camera, the film has a lot going for it. I look forward to seeing Maverick back in action – aviator jacket and all. 

Top Gun: Maverick finally soars into theaters on May 27th.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.