What does Top Gun Maverick Say About Tom Cruise’s Career?

Jun 30, 2022

Top Gun Maverick, starring the action star Tom Cruise, is the official sequel to the 1986 movie Top Gun. To say that this film has had a rocky journey to the big screen would be an understatement. In development for about 30 years with filmmakers coming and going, the project ultimately ended up with director Joseph Kosinski. Kosinski seemed an odd choice at first. His filmography had not yet connected with audiences as, say, Tony Scott who helmed the original film back in 1986.

One key factor that made audiences somewhat nervous about jumping back into the cockpit. The film was delayed four times from its original July 12th, 2019 release date to May 27th, 2022. While the delays were partly due to theglobal Covid-19 pandemic it made audiences somewhat skeptical about the long-delayed sequel.

Also, audiences were quickly becoming disenchanted with the legacy-sequel formula. What started strong in 2015 with mega-hits such as Jurassic World, Creed, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens was quickly falling out of favor. Films such as Terminator Dark Fate, Independence Day Resurgence, Rambo Last Blood, and Doctor Sleep did not reignite fans interest in these franchises.

Even with so many roadblocks ahead of it, Top Gun Maverick has managed to become a surprise smash hit. The film has overwhelmingly positive reviews and a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, Top Gun Mavverick is on track for a 150 million debut which would exceed Pirates Of Caribbean: At The World’s End record. This would mark Tom Cruise’s best opening weekend debut in his career. which usually hovers around the 70-90 million mark. It is another feather in Paramount Pictures’ cap, with the studios other films like Scream 5, Sonic 2, and Lost City scoring highly both critically and financially. Still, it is also a massive win for Mr. Cruise as an artist and human being.

Whether or not it was intentional, Top Gun Maverick asks and answers two questions that even Mr. Cruise has been asking himself over the course of his career. First is “What has been my legacy?”. And how does it shape who we are as people?” Now on the surface these may seem like vague ideas and themes. Not ones you would bring up in a discussion about a blockbuster sequel. However, the reason why I bring them up comes down to the fact that the Tom Cruise that we know and appreciate today was very much forged thru the 1986 classic Top Gun.

You could say that Cruise would not be the hardcore action star he is today had that 1986 film not ignited the spark he needed to reach his full potential. And he has been carrying that feeling ever since even earning him the name “The Last Action Star.” No matter if he is hanging from a plane, jumping from a skyscraper, or flying a fighter jet. Tom Cruise wants to stand in the middle of the action like no other star. This sets the actor apart from other action stars such as Chris Pratt or Dwayne Johnson is Tom Cruise bleeds for our entertainment. Perhaps a relic of the past, but one who dares to push through to entertain audiences. Doing so in a way that is honest and endearing compared to our age of IP bloated films.

This probably makes Top Gun Maverick a hit with critics and audiences since it demonstrates how movie stars are still relevant today. Tom Cruise’s career is an example of a man who pushed himself physically and mentally. Top Gun Maverick shows that you can still be something more if you don’t fully believe in yourself. Or you are in the past. So this then begs the question, where does Tom Cruise go from here exactly? He has several top-notch projects coming up over the next couple of years. Most notable are back-to-back Mission Impossible movies directed by Christopher Mcquarrie and an action sci-fi movie directed by Doug Liam. 

While I believe Mr. Cruise will continue to push himself as an actor for the rest of his life, could these three projects be a sort of swan song? He may even realize he can’t keep doing this action stuff forever. But there is a scene in Top Gun Maverick has a conversation between Iceman and Maverick that says a lot.

“The Navy needs Maverick. The kid needs Maverick. That’s why I fought for you. It’s because of that you’re still here.”

Even if his career is nearing its end, Hollywood still needs Tom Cruise. Whatever the future holds for Mr. Cruise, it will be entertaining to watch.