The Problem Facing Any Sequel to ‘Top Gun’

Since there are actual human beings thinking it’s a good idea to make a sequel to Top Gun, it seems important to take a look at the hurdles that would face such a production (at least as they pertain to telling a good story and casting people that makes sense).

Will Tom Cruise sign on to star? Will Goose’s ghost be involved? Neither of those questions matter, because the possible production has an uphill battle as it is.

It’s best to look at this in scenario form.

Scenario #1: Maverick is the main role and Cruise is back

If Maverick returns as the star (as promised by screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie), the problem is that a present day setting sees the hot shot long retired from military service and collecting that sweet pension from the Navy. He might still be busting his hump at the Pentagon or working for a weapons manufacturer, but he’s in the ballpark of 50 years old.

So scrap the present day setting, and have Cruise play a much younger man than he is – which we’ve seen him do fairly well. Then, it’s a matter of making a sequel to a cheesy movie set in the 90s, which has the potential to make the damned thing cheesier than the powder packet that comes in the blue box.

Scenario #2: Maverick is the main role and Cruise isn’t back

From McQuarrie’s statement, it’s clear that Maverick is the focus. However, that doesn’t mean that Cruise is playing him. Or that he’s in the movie at all. Normally, the question would be whether audiences would buy seeing another actor on screen calling himself Maverick and getting all weepy over Goose, but the real problem here is whether anyone would care. They’d have to get a fairly well known actor, and who in that world wants sloppy seconds on a role from the mid 80s?

Scenario #3: Maverick isn’t the main role

This seems far-fetched based on the denial by the screenwriter, but it’s early on in the process, and if losing Maverick means getting a green light, producers might be feeling the need for speed more than the nostalgia for a character whose major emotional moment came while flexing his arm to read his watch.

What have we learned?

It’s a general rule that making a sequel two decades or more after the original is a tough row to hoe. It’s not fertile ground anymore, and there’s no real point in planting seeds there because they’ll have a tough time growing.

Still, if Paramount, Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer decide to move forward with this, they’ll have these challenges to face. Sadly, there’s no perfect solution to any of them. And this isn’t assuming the movie should be Best of the Year material. Even on a fundamental level, there are character issues. If anyone can tackle them, it’s probably the guy that gave us The Usual Suspects, but the hurdles are tall and the track hasn’t been taken care of since 1986.

What do you think?

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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