Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky’s send-off in Top Gun: Maverick was a fitting tribute to Val Kilmer, and the actor’s reaction to his scene makes it better. Val Kilmer is best known for his work in the 1980s and 1990s, having starred in popular movies like Top Gun, Batman Forever, and Heat. In 2015, Kilmer’s ability to speak deteriorated due to throat cancer, which is incorporated into Top Gun: Maverick in a tasteful way, while also fitting in well with the movie’s narrative.
By the time viewers see Iceman in Top Gun: Maverick, he is the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, and is Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s (Tom Cruise) only ally within the higher rankings of the Navy. Using his position of power, Iceman saves Maverick’s job and assigns him to train the best young pilots at TOPGUN to fly an impossible mission. Iceman’s presence is felt throughout the movie, but Val Kilmer only appears in one scene. The face-to-face conversation he has with Maverick is the most emotionally charged scene in Top Gun 2, as Iceman helps his old rival-turned-friend let go of the past and encourages him to make amends with Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, Goose’s son.
Top Gun: Maverick director Tom Kosinski recently revealed that Val Kilmer was happy and moved by Iceman’s scene with Maverick when he first watched it. Knowing Kilmer’s reaction makes the scene even better because it proves that Top Gun: Maverick gave Iceman the perfect goodbye while also handling Kilmer’s medical condition respectfully. The scene is a more emotional experience with the context of how much the Top Gun 2 scene meant to Kilmer, and how genuine a lot of the emotion and pathos in it appears to have been.
Why Top Gun: Maverick’s Iceman Scene Is Perfect
Iceman’s scene in Top Gun: Maverick carries so much emotional weight because it shows how time has caught up with two men who were fearless and seemingly indestructible in their youth. Health issues have caught up with Iceman, while Maverick is still haunted by mistakes he made in the past. The first half of the scene leans into Kilmer’s real-life condition by having Iceman stay silent and type on a computer to communicate with Maverick, who is torn on whether to let Rooster fly Top Gun: Maverick’s final mission or not. So when Iceman eventually does talk, it is an incredibly emotional moment because he only speaks if the situation is important, like supporting his old friend.
Maverick and Iceman’s conversation is a perfect example of how to deal with legacy sequels. Their three-minute interaction touches on key moments in their shared history, including Goose’s death, and also injects the right amount of humor, with Iceman jokingly asking Maverick who the better pilot is out of the two. If Top Gun: Maverick ends up being the last movie appearance Val Kilmer decides to do, then it is a worthy performance to end on, and knowing Kilmer himself is deservedly proud of the scene makes it even better.