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‘Top Gun 3’ is happening after all

Maverick is back on the highway to the danger zone, again.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
('Top Gun: Maverick'/IMDB)

You can’t keep a good aviator down. Especially if said aviator is played by Tom Cruise and the most recent film grossed more than $1.4 billion internationally. Yes, a third Top Gun film is in development.

Early, early development that is. Superstar actor, producer and Pete “Maverick” Mitchell himself Tom Cruise recently signed a non-exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to act in and produce several of the studio’s movies. For the most part Cruise has been busy making his blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick and the Mission Impossible series at Paramount. But amid the news of the Warner Bros. Discovery deal, it’s been confirmed that Paramount is working on a third Top Gun film, and has been since the fall. And even though Top Gun: Maverick literally ended with Maverick flying into the sunset with his love interest, he’ll be back for one more mission. According to the Hollywood trades, Maverick co-writer Ehren Kruger is working on a script that would see Cruise joined by Miles Teller and Glenn Powell as Rooster and Hangman once again, while the intent is to get Maverick director Joseph Kosinski to return. Given the early stages of this, no one is signed on as of yet. 

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If Top Gun 3 does happen, there is the question of what it would even cover. In his return to the big screen, Maverick took on the issue of pilots being replaced by drones, flew an experimental Darkstar plane to record speeds and helped lead a successful mission against the unspecified “enemy,” all while reconciling with Rooster and having an emotional farewell with Iceman. What is there to do next? Does the preemptive strike on the enemy lead to an all-out war where dogfights are a regular occurrence? And in a real-world matter, given the U.S. Navy’s involvement in the previous two films, how many Navy jets and aircraft carriers will be involved in making the next Top Gun?

If those questions are to be answered, the next question is when. Early development does not mean shooting. Even though the original Top Gun was a massive success, it took 24 years before development of the sequel even began (back in 1990 Cruise even dismissed the idea of doing a sequel). That was pushed back by the suicide of original Top Gun director Tony Scott and script development before eventual Maverick director Kosinski got the job. And even when principal photography was wrapped the film still was pushed back, both because of massive disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic and Cruise’s insistence on improving certain elements to get it right. 

Even if Cruise and his team can get a script ready for shooting quickly, and if the Navy can spare the resources — several ships are currently occupied in the Mediterranean and Red seas — it likely won’t start filming in the next few months. Cruise is still shooting Mission Impossible 8, which also features a Navy aircraft carrier in it, and is set to film a movie with director Doug Liman afterward, which will allegedly see the actor actually go to space. 

Considering how good Top Gun: Maverick turned out to be, it was worth the wait. Perhaps Top Gun 3 will be worth waiting some more.

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