Do you feel the need for speed? Well, it looks like Tom Cruise does, because the stunt veteran is getting ready to hop back into the cockpit of a fighter jet as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the aptly titled Top Gun: Maverick. Fans have speculated about the direction of the long-awaited sequel for quite some time, but now it looks like one long-running theory about the plot just got shot down. I had the chance to ask director Joseph Kosinksi if Top Gun 2 would see Maverick fight drones while talking about his work on Only the Brave, and he quickly put that notion to rest. Kosinski explained:
Personally, I would never want to see a movie about drones. For me Top Gun has always been not about fighter planes. It's been about fighter pilots.
So despite some earlier reports and internet chatter about Top Gun: Maverick pitting our favorite naval aviator up against high-tech drones, it appears that those rumors have been greatly exaggerated. Like the first film, Top Gun: Maverick will apparently focus its attention specifically on a cast of pilots and keep the action geared towards traditional dogfights. Based on Joseph Kosinksi's comments: to move away from that idea would shift away from the core thesis of Top Gun that fans have come to know and love.
The idea of drones becoming a central part of the second Top Gun movie definitely made a certain degree of sense at first glance. Unmanned vehicles have become increasingly common in actual warfare, and their practical use (or their drawbacks) have frequently been examined in films like Stealth, Good Kill, and Eye in the Sky. For one of the most famous properties predicated on combat aviation to explore this topic seemed like a logical progression of the franchise.
That said, for many fans of the Top Gun lore, this revelation may be met with a sigh of relief. Pilot-on-pilot dogfights are the backbone of this world, so swapping out rivals like Val Kilmer's Iceman (or even unnamed Soviet fighter pilots) might not work as well. Think about it; would Maverick giving the middle finger to a drone really have the same emotional impact?
Of course, while this one pressing question about Top Gun: Maverick has finally received an answer, there are still plenty of other aspects of the movie that require more clarification. Will the film once again take place at the Top Gun academy in San Diego? Will Kelly McGillis or Tom Skerritt return to their respective roles as Charlie and Viper? How does the Top Gun universe expand and evolve outside of its distinctive Cold War setting? With two years left until the film hits theaters, we still have quite a ways to go before we learn everything.