Top Gun: Maverick Theory: Was Maverick’s Breath Taken Away?

4/5 Falcons

Simona Culotta, Contributing Writer

Contains spoilers!

The movie, Top Gun: Maverick, was recently released as a sequel to the original film, Top Gun, which came out in 1986. The original production was so successful that it helped recruit pilots to the naval academy’s Top Gun school, which had been suffering from low recruitment numbers due to the Vietnam War. Because of the first movie’s outstanding ratings and popularity in the 1980s, fans have been anticipating this new version of the movie for over 30 years. The film was planned to be released the summer of 2020, but was delayed for two years because creators insisted the film must be experienced in the cinema. 

In the beginning of Top Gun: Maverick, the main character, Maverick (Tom Cruise), takes flight in a Mach 10 Darkstar plane, which must be flown in the thin air above the upper atmosphere. As he’s flying, he reaches a decimal over Mach 10 capacity, resulting in the plane failing and blowing up into pieces. The rest of the story is made to believe that Maverick ejected out of the aircraft before it exploded and continued on with his life, but fans have come to believe a different series of events. They’ve suggested that in reality, Maverick did not survive the plane accident, therefore making the rest of the film a death dream he had experienced about his past and returning back to Top Gun.

Expectations were high, but the film delivered its content successfully.”

This theory isn’t out of the realm of possibility. We are shown snippets of Maverick training and physically preparing his body to fly in space, along with being suited in space gear and an astronaut helmet. These scenes provide the audience with a good sense of the extreme conditions and safety requirements for this dangerous cruise through the air, further confirming that it would be merely impossible for the character to have survived. Additionally, specific scenes were almost too familiar to the original movie. Maverick’s flying partner, Goose, seems to be portrayed by his son, Rooster, and is shown to be suspiciously similar to his father: Not only does Rooster look almost identical to his father, but he also has the same position in the Naval Academy. Scenes are shown of Rooster singing and playing the piano at the same bar that Maverick and Goose used to go to, which is identical to a scene in the original Top Gun movie. This can be interpreted as Maverick’s life being replayed throughout this death dream, but masked by new characters and slight changes to plots. 

Personally, watching this movie in the theater, I could tell that the audience was very enthusiastic and impressed with the film, especially since the majority of viewers there seemed to be part of Gen X. Expectations were high, but the film delivered its content successfully by pleasing most viewers and receiving a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

This theory is a hard pill to swallow, especially for fans of the original film who adore their heartthrob protagonist. Overall, this production was very entertaining and gave viewers what they wanted, even if it possibly meant killing off Maverick.

This piece also appears in our June 2022 print edition.