Moviemaking technology has improved significantly since Top Gun came out, so with Top Gun: Maverick, it would have been easy enough to use CGI and other forms of digital trickery to show the actors flying across the screen. However, Tom Cruise, who’s reprising Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, requested that the sequel rely on practical effects.
As a result, the flying seen in Top Gun: Maverick is all real, as highlighted in a cool-looking video shared by the folks at Skydance (one of the sequel’s production companies) that also threw some quick shade at CGI in the process.
Now that’s impressive! Yes, there are times when CGI becomes necessary to bring to life certain cinematic visions, but more often than not, nothing beats going the practical route if you’re wanting things to look as realistic as possible. So in that regard, Top Gun: Maverick followed in its predecessor’s footsteps by having actual jets flying through their air rather than just creating those stunts and maneuvers on a computer screen.
Clearly this was important for Tom Cruise, who developed a love for aviation from his time working on Top Gun. In fact, the reliance of practical effects was part of the early conversations with Paramount Pictures about making Top Gun: Maverick happen, with the actor saying how there’ll be aerial sequences in the project shot in a way never done before.
And Tom Cruise didn’t just stop at insisting that there be actually flying in Top Gun: Maverick and even getting into a cockpit himself. He also had his fellow actors playing pilots go through flight training, which included a “grueling” process that prepared them for the G-force they’d experience while in the air. It wouldn’t have been complicated to get already-trained pilots to operate those aircraft, but Cruise was insistent that his co-stars develop the same need for speed that he and his character have.
The Top Gun sequel first entered development a decade ago, with the original plan being for Top Gun’s director, the late Tony Scott, to take on helming duties again. By 2017, the official title was announced and Oblivion’s Joseph Kosinski was announced to direct, while Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible collaborator Christopher McQuarrie wrote the script with Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer.
Along with Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick’s cast includes Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Glenn Powell, Lewis Pullman, Monica Barbaro, Charles Parnell, Danny Ramirez and Manny Jacinto, among others. The story sees Pete Mitchell training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a special mission. Filming on the sequel stretched from summer 2018 to spring 2019.