One Thing Top Gun Definitely 'Stole' From Real Fighter Pilots

Tom Cruise in Top Gun

Naturally 1986’s Top Gun made great efforts to ensure the flying looked as realistic as possible, but that wasn’t the only way the Tom Cruise-led feature accurately represented the life of a U.S. Navy pilot. As it turns out, that scene where the aviators are singing their lungs out in a bar wasn’t just thrown in for added cinematic amusement; those are truly shenanigans that the pilots engage in.

This information comes from Jim DiMatteo, a former Captain of the Navy and 25-year-long veteran, so naturally he knows a thing or two about flying. Here’s what DiMatteo had to say when asked about how accurate Top Gun was:

The singing in bars is accurate. They stole that from us. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the second movie (Top Gun: Maverick) and the producers, directors and Tom Cruise came to the squadron space and interacted and talked to the people. Back in the first movie there was a lot of what they call ‘color’—they saw the guys singing to the girl in the bar and they saw the rough and tough and the cigar smoking. There were a lot of real-life characters back then, so they didn’t really have to create anything. Now, one of Tom Cruise’s reactions was that the younger kids today are a lot more politically correct. So it was kind of interesting to hear them ask where they could add ‘color’ into their personalities and not offend the Navy, because the Navy has to be on board with this whole thing.

While Jim DiMatteo wasn’t involved with the making of the first Top Gun movie, he did contribute to Top Gun: Maverick, and during his time on the sequel, he learned a little about what went into the making of that bar scene. In case it’s been a while since you’ve watched Top Gun, feel free to re-experience Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Anthony Edwards’ Nick “Goose” Bradshaw” visiting the local watering hole one evening with the clip below.

It had already been teased in one of the Top Gun: Maverick trailers that the sequel would include its own bar scene, but naturally with times having changed over the last three decades, it’s won’t unfold quite the same way as it did in the mid-1980s. Still, it’s cool that Jim DiMatteo was around to lend advice on how to make that portion of the sequel, among many others, feel more authentic.

Jim DiMatteo also noted in his interview with Robb Report that other elements in the original Top Gun, including the competitiveness and the dangers of flying, were accurate as well, although there was some “Hollywood stuff,” like Maverick flying to the other side of the world to deal with a problem, that wouldn’t happen in real life. Although met with mixed critical reception upon its initial release, Top Gun has since become one of the most well-known movies of the ‘80s, and it pulled in nearly $357 million worldwide at the box office.

As for Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel will see Tom Cruise’s character training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a special mission, and along the way, he’ll have to confront the ghosts of his past. Cruise’s costars include Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Monica Barbaro, Charles Parnell, Danny Ramirez and Manny Jacinto. Tron: Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski sat in the director’s chair, working off a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer.

Having already been pushed back a handful of times, Top Gun: Maverick is currently expected to fly into theaters on July 2, 2021, although if that changes, we here at CinemaBlend will be sure to let you know. You can learn what other movies are supposed to come out next year in our 2021 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.