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Top Gun: Maverick Made A Change You May Not Have Even Noticed, But Also May Be The Reason The Tom Cruise Flick Doesn't Have A Release Date In China

Tom Cruise In "Top Gun: Maverick."
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

After more than 30 years, Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is finally back on the big screen in Top Gun: Maverick. The highly anticipated sequel boasts some highly impressive aerial feats (that required the actors to have real flight training) as well as some legitimate emotional stakes. While the movie is currently being enjoyed by many across the U.S. and in other parts of the world this weekend, there’s at least one place that the film has yet to open: China. And the film’s lack of a release date there could arguably be due to a small change within the movie that some viewers may not have even picked up on yet. 

The first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick debuted back in 2019 and quickly put audiences back into the cockpit with Tom Cruise’s beloved Navy pilot. Something that eagle-eyed fans may have noticed is that the production team made a little, yet important, change to the character’s iconic aviator attire. In the original film, the back of his jacket featured a patch with Japanese and Taiwanese flags on it. However, in the trailer, those emblems had been replaced with random symbols. Check out this tweet, which was sent out shortly after that footage dropped and shows the difference between the original movie and the sequel: 

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As mentioned in the tweet, the alteration was more than likely made to appease the Chinese government. The country has been cracking down when it comes to what’s eligible to be screened in the region. China is a large market for movies, and one could argue that it could give Paramount Pictures’ latest blockbuster release a boost at the international box office. It appears, however, that plans changed. 

The finished film revealed that the jacket once again features the Japanese and Taiwanese flags. While we can’t say for sure that this is the sole reason why Top Gun: Maverick has yet to receive a release window in China, the attire could very well be a contributing factor. This creative decision doesn’t seem to be lost on entertainment pundits, either. While speaking with Vice World News, Ho Siu Bun, a Hong Kong-based film critic, seemed surprised by the move: 

It is unprecedented. Major film studios have never been shy about pandering to the Chinese market. And even if it is a simple scene, editing is very costly. So no one knows why they changed it back.

Ironically, the aviator jacket served as a major creative challenge for another reason entirely. Tom Cruise was apparently lukewarm about including it in the first place, despite the fact that many fans associate it with the character. While Cruise couldn’t think of a solid reason within the narrative for the pilot to still have it, he and the filmmakers eventually decided to establish that it’s Maverick’s “lucky jacket.”

While the piece of clothing may be a reason for the hold-up on the sequel’s release in China, the film is off to a nice start here in the states. The movie broke records on its first day, giving Paramount its best Thursday night preview window ever and scoring the best Memorial Day preview ever. On top of that, the movie has also received strong reviews from critics, who have been hyping the aerial sequences. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg, in his own review, also praised it as an exciting flick that could take your breath away.

I’d say that Top Gun: Maverick is in pretty good shape right now, and you really couldn’t ask for a better return to the big screen for Tom Cruise’s Pete Mitchell. As for whether he and his comrades ever land in China, that remains to be seen.

After you check out Top Gun: Maverick this weekend, be sure to look at CinemaBlend’s schedule of upcoming movies for more on the big-screen adventures headed your way in the coming months.

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.