While director Joseph Kosinski’s 2022 movie Spiderhead was nowhere near as successful as his earlier hit Top Gun: Maverick, the Netflix satire did allow the helmer to parody his own blockbuster’s ending. Top Gun: Maverick’s Joseph Kosinski followed the movie with the Netflix sci-fi satire Spiderhead. On paper, this sounds like a surprising choice. Top Gun: Maverick was an unashamedly silly crowd-pleaser that recreated the tone and style of director Tony Scott’s original 1986 cult classic Top Gun. In contrast, Spiderhead was a darkly comedic sci-fi satire about a futuristic prison that offered a barbed critique of pharmaceutical ethics by adapting George Saunders’ acclaimed short story Escape From Spidehead.
However, Spiderhead’s underrated takedown of the carceral state may not be that far from Top Gun: Maverick’s plot. After all, Top Gun: Maverick’s Iceman cameo already implied that Top Gun 3 could revisit Scott’s original plot for the sequel. A story that focused on drones replacing human pilots and rendering Maverick irrelevant, this plot would combine Top Gun’s franchise themes with Spiderhead’s satirical message about machines taking over human lives. Not only that, but Spiderhead also bizarrely (and possibly unintentionally) parodies Top Gun: Maverick’s ending. While the two movies were released at almost the same time thanks to release date delays, Spiderhead was shot after Kosinski completed Top Gun: Maverick.
Spiderhead’s Ending Subverts Top Gun: Maverick’s Most Tragic Moment
At the end of Top Gun: Maverick, Miles Teller’s troubled mentor Maverick seemingly crashes his plane into a mountain near the movie’s climax, only to emerge from the crash unscathed. At the end of Spiderhead, Miles Teller’s troubled mentor does crash his plane into a mountain near the movie’s climax, but he is not as lucky as Maverick. While Iceman was right to call Maverick “dangerous,” Top Gun: Maverick proved that the franchise antihero’s heart is in the right place. In contrast, Chris Hemsworth’s amiable tech billionaire Steve Abnesti seemed like a charismatic and trustworthy character for most of the adaptation, only for Spiderhead’s ending to flip this perception.
Teller’s character spends all of Top Gun: Maverick fighting with Maverick, only to eventually rely on him at the movie’s ending. In Spiderhead, Teller’s character spends the entire movie’s story working alongside Abnesti, and it is only at the movie’s ending that he realizes he can’t trust this mentor figure. Thus, Kosinski’s first movie after Top Gun: Maverick managed to perfectly invert the story of Top Gun: Maverick. As if to underline this comparison, Top Gun: Maverick’s Rooster needed to learn to fly faster and more intuitively, while Spiderhead’s hero ended up in prison because of a car crash where he lost control of his inhibitions and his vehicle.
Spiderhead’s Story Is The Reverse Of Top Gun: Maverick
Chris Hemsworth’s Abnesti, like Maverick, is a renegade who plays by no one’s rules but his own. However, in his case, that is a terrible thing, and he soon proves to be a megalomaniacal scientist who has gone mad with power. While Spiderhead’s trippy story was not a hit with critics, the adaptation did allow Kosinski to explore the story of Top Gun: Maverick from a new perspective and offer a very different spin on the narrative. If nothing else, Spiderhead deserves credit for flipping Top Gun: Maverick’s twist ending perfectly.