Tom Cruise has many upcoming sequels in the works, and the success of Top Gun: Maverick success indicates Top Gun 3 will happen at some point. With plenty of upcoming Tom Cruise movies are coming out over the next few years, the actor shows no signs of slowing down, and could make a third Top Gun movie a reality sooner rather than later. The praise that Maverick has seen shows that nostalgia works if done right, and it can be built on further in another sequel.
Top Gun is not the first film from the 1980s to receive some sort of legacy sequel years down the line, and many other shows and movies from that decade and beyond have seen revivals on streaming services or on the big screen. Maverick was years in the making as it began early production in 2010. While it suffered delays due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Top Gun 2 made $1 billion and was one of several films that helped save the movie theater industry post-pandemic. The box office success and overwhelming critical and audience reception could lead to Top Gun 3 once Tom Cruise completes production on his impending projects.
Given how many upcoming Tom Cruise movies build upon his pre-existing franchise roles – between two Mission Impossible movies, a potential upcoming Live, Die, Repeat sequel, and a return to Tropic Thunder’s Les Grosman – it’s clear the actor is increasingly open to reprising previous characters, suggesting a third Top Gun movie is becoming yet more possible. While Top Gun 3 could have been a harder sell given that Top Gun: Maverick finished off some storylines so strongly, there are various ways that it could work. Maverick is no longer in Top Gun, so more of the focus could and should be on the Top Gun students. The Top Gun: Maverick plot put a lot of emphasis on why the other students were so important to the completion of their mission, and the story didn’t revolve solely around Pete Mitchell, so furthering their personal arcs and stories via Tom Cruise’s overarching guidance could create a solid third movie. The sheer scale of Cruise’s success with Top Gun: Maverick will likely benefit his forthcoming films, and further box office wins as a result of the sequel could guarantee Top Gun 3. The Mission: Impossible franchise could also be coming to an end – as the seventh and eighth films are being filmed back-to-back – which would allow Tom Cruise to direct his focus into a project like Top Gun 3, which would require considerable thought and time in order to match its predecessors.
Why Tom Cruise Needs To Return For Top Gun 3
Pete Mitchell was given a happy ending at the end of Top Gun: Maverick. The film could have set up a Top Gun sequel without Tom Cruise, but Maverick is also someone who doesn’t want to stop doing what he loves. He could always return to Top Gun because of his successful mission in the second film, but the filmmakers could also decide to sideline him in favor of focusing on the Top Gun students and where they’re at now. Maverick may be the face of the franchise, but he isn’t the future, so Top Gun 3 could also be a proper sendoff for the character – though either way, he needs to be in the movie in order to show the future of the franchise.
Tom Cruise should return for a final Top Gun movie in a limited role, because there isn’t much story left to tell for Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, and extending his arc too far could be detrimental. The recent sequel could have seen his character’s demise, but Top Gun 2 didn’t kill Maverick because of how important he was for Rooster’s story – and a further proverbial passing of the torch could well pay off more than keeping the actor in the franchise for the sake of potential future movies. Top Gun: Maverick may have been an unexpected surprise, but Top Gun 3 wouldn’t be, raising expectations as audiences would expect the movie to hold as much pathos as the previous two films managed. As such, it would work best if Top Gun 3 was Tom Cruise’s last flight as Maverick, with all the emotion that potential storyline could contain.