Top Gun: Maverick, which was shot in 2018 but repeatedly delayed due to the pandemic, is finally set to arrive in theaters on May 27. The sequel to 1986’s Top Gun, it stars Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, onetime Naval pilot trainee-turned-instructor. But if Cruise had stuck to his initial thoughts about a follow-up, we probably wouldn’t be watching it at all.
Gizmodo excavated a 1990 interview Cruise granted to Playboy in which the actor didn’t see himself reprising the role of Maverick under any circumstances.
“Some people felt that Top Gun was a right-wing film to promote the Navy,” Cruise said. “And a lot of kids loved it. But I want the kids to know that that’s not the way war is—that Top Gun was just an amusement park ride, a fun film with a PG-13 rating that was not supposed to be reality.
"That’s why I didn’t go on and make Top Gun II and III and IV and V. That would have been irresponsible.”
Cruise is obviously not averse to sequels: He went on to make Mission: Impossible II and III and IV and V and VI and VII and VIII. But the context of the question—the interviewer was comparing Top Gun to Cruise’s intense new drama Born of the Fourth of July, about real-life Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic—may have drawn Cruise to suggest he wasn’t opting to return to a popcorn depiction of war anytime soon.
Actors have often shot down sequels only to return to them later: Sylvester Stallone regularly made pronouncements there wouldn’t be any more Rocky movies following Rocky III. (The franchise now totals eight films.)
Whether Top Gun glorified war in the eyes of younger audiences is debatable. That it glorified Ray-Bans is not: Sales of the sunglasses shot up following the movie.