While early word indicates that a Top Gun: Maverick sequel may not receive a follow-up for some time yet, this is likely to be good news for a potential Top Gun 3. The production of Top Gun: Maverick could not have been less rushed. Since the original Top Gun was released in 1986, there had been intermittent talks of a sequel, but it took no less than 36 long years for this follow-up to reach cinema screens.
However, the outsized box-office success of Top Gun: Maverick (not to mention its critical acclaim) proved that this multi-decade wait was worth it in the end. Many of the elements that made Top Gun’s sequel so effective, like Maverick’s more mature characterization and his growth from a young hotshot test pilot into a wizened older mentor, wouldn’t have worked if Top Gun: Maverick had arrived any earlier. Thus, the seemingly sad news that Top Gun 3 won’t happen any time soon may well be a blessing in disguise for franchise fans.
Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni stated on his podcast The Town that there is unlikely to be any sign of Top Gun 3 soon, citing star Tom Cruise’s focus on the Mission Impossible franchise as the most obvious cause for these delays. Now that Top Gun: Maverick is Cruise’s first billion-dollar movie, it makes sense for the actor to want to parlay his resurgent popularity into another, more consistently successful franchise. However, viewers who were eager to see another stellar Top Gun installment need not fret. The news that Top Gun 3 won’t arrive for a while is good for numerous reasons, as evidenced by the lengthy wait between Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick, which similarly worked to make the movie more potent to audiences and let it work better plot-wise.
Why Top Gun 3 Needs Time
With the ending of Top Gun: Maverick, Maverick’s story has been wrapped up perfectly. This means the next Top Gun outing shouldn’t take place immediately after the last, as Tom Cruise’s troubled antihero deserves at least some peace after risking his life in Top Gun: Maverick’s final mission. Not only that but, while Maverick is overdue a shift toward a less active, more mentorship-based role (making Top Gun 3 better for Tom Cruise than Mission Impossible 9), the real-life Cruise is still young enough to play headline a major action franchise in the form of the Mission Impossible movies.
Seeing Maverick return for another “last” mission could ruin Top Gun: Maverick’s appeal, especially if it happened soon after the sequel – but seeing him effectively retire from active service and become a teacher could make Cruise’s antics in other franchises look tired. It is tricky to envision Ethan Hunt as a sprightly, still-sprinting field agent while also simultaneously viewing another Cruise hero, Maverick, as a mentor ready to hand things over to a new generation. However, Top Gun 3 could downplay Tom Cruise’s role and expand the horizons of the franchise if the sequel waits for the Mission Impossible movies to take their course. This means it might be a while before Top Gun 3 appears in theaters, but it also means that this eventual follow-up will be more likely to live up to its predecessors.