After the abrupt passing of director Tony Scott in 2012, Top Gun 2, which was in development at the time, was put on hold indefinitely before being revived last year. Now, according to Hollywood exec David Ellison, the project is again in development.
Yes, the long awaited sequel will almost certainly include Tom Cruise reprising his starring role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
Ellison elaborated about the project’s status during an interview by Collider.com:
“Justin Marks is writing the screenplay right now. He has a phenomenal take to really update that world for what fighter pilots in the Navy has turned into today. There is an amazing role for Maverick in the movie and there is no Top Gun without Maverick, and it is going to be Maverick playing Maverick. It is I don’t think what people are going to expect, and we are very, very hopeful that we get to make the movie very soon. But like all things, it all comes down to the script, and Justin is writing as we speak.”
As for what a Top Gun sequel would look like 30 years after the original, along with all the cultural and technological changes that have occurred in naval aviation since, Ellison said:
“I think this is a movie that should be in 3-D and in IMAX, and again something that you can shoot practically. As everyone knows with Tom, he is 100% going to want to be in those airplanes shooting it practically. When you look at the world of dogfighting, what’s interesting about it is that it’s not a world that exists to the same degree when the original movie came out. This world has not been explored. It is very much a world we live in today where it’s drone technology and fifth generation fighters are really what the United States Navy is calling the last man-made fighter that we’re actually going to produce so it’s really exploring the end of an era of dogfighting and fighter pilots and what that culture is today are all fun things that we’re gonna get to dive into in this movie.”
The focus on unmanned aircraft and all the complexities that go along with the issue of drone warfare might be a bit of a let down for some Top Gun fans. This is especially true considering that the manned aircraft portrayed in the original became beloved characters in their own right.
Then there is the disappointing film
Good Kill and the critically panned Stealth, which both tried to make unmanned air combat a topic worth paying to sit in a dark theater for a two hours with pretty dismal results.
Although Top Gun 2 will hopefully learn from recent unmanned air combat films errors, why not take the opportunity to give the world one last heart pounding ‘stick and rudder’ air-to-air combat hurrah before the reality of the automation heavy F-35 and unmanned swarms arrive in full force?
Instead of heavily integrating the still shadowy technology of advanced Unmanned Air Combat Vehicles into the screenplay, Top Gun 2’s producers should consider Foxtrot Alpha’s ideal plot choice. I think it would go a lot further in keeping with the spirit of the original film instead of remaking Stealth with Tom Cruise in a starring role.
This exact time in aviation history is Hollywood’s last chance to make a Top Gun movie without drones. By the next decade, a script will have no choice but to heavily include unmanned technology if it aims to set its plot in present time.
Bottom line: I don’t think some guy bitching at another for being “dangerous” because they didn’t load up the right safety logic software or used an unapproved mouse pad to control their unmanned aircraft would have the same impact as having a real pilot (like one that sits in a cockpit and moves through the air) owning up to their aerial feats.
Hopefully, after initial script reviews, the minds behind Top Gun 2 will leave the drones in their hangars, along with the political maelstrom that goes with them, and instead stick to the simple, if not over the top themes that made the original the cultureal phenomenon it has became.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.