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Val Kilmer as Iceman

There’s no denying the fact that Top Gun is an iconic, memorable movie in our pop-culture canon. You can say out loud in a crowd, “I feel the need…” and there’s a very good chance that total strangers will reply, “… the need for speed!” But if we asked you the plot of Top Gun, could you recall it? It’s about flight-school cadets. And one of them, Maverick (Tom Cruise), seduces his instructor. But what mission do they end up on? And who is Iceman in this dynamic?

We’re refreshing our memories on the different parts from Top Gun as we get closer to the release of this summer’s long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick. Tom Cruise is back, playing the renegade pilot, though Anthony Edwards can’t return (decades-old spoiler: Goose dies in Top Gun). But Val Kilmer can, and will, play Maverick’s rival, Iceman, in the new movie. Opening up on the production to EW, Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski stated that he’s protecting Iceman’s reveal in the sequel’s marketing materials, explaining:

The rivalry and relationship between Iceman and Maverick is one of those things that makes that first film so iconic. It’s a relationship that is important to the Top Gun franchise and as a fan I would want to see how it’s evolved.

In the same interview, Joseph Kosinski says that the engine behind Top Gun: Maverick will be the relationship between Tom Cruise and cast newcomer Miles Teller, who will be playing Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, son of Maverick’s former co-pilot, Goose. Kosinski goes on to say that it’s the main reason why Cruise saw that this was the time to bring Top Gun back, after years of false starts on the sequel.

It’s our hope that Val Kilmer gets to be a lot more than a glorified cameo in Top Gun: Maverick. By the end of Top Gun, these two hotheads had found common ground. How has that relationship evolved? Will they be able to work together to meet whatever goals are presented in the sequel?

There’s a lot of mystery still swirling around Top Gun: Maverick. We know that it will introduce a new class of flight students, and that Tom Cruise reprises his signature role (well, ONE of his many signature roles). But the trailer has been mostly about iconic imagery that calls to mind the first film, and we’re interested to see what Cruise and Joseph Kosinski bring to the franchise that is new and exciting.

We’ll find out soon enough. Top Gun: Maverick roars into theaters on June 26. Feel free to play a few rounds of beach volleyball while you patiently wait for the sequel to drop.

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