The latest trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick” was released during Sunday’s Super Bowl, and it seemed to indicate that Maverick may be headed to a court martial.
As the trailer’s voice over points out, Maverick may be facing a court martial in this new installment… and to be honest, I’m not at all surprised.
The original “Top Gun” was more than a blockbuster film, it also ushered in a golden age of recruiting for U.S. Navy aviation. The movie did such a good job of selling young Americans on the idea of flying fighter jets that some recruiters even set up tables outside theaters to engage with movie-goers as they came walking out of the film. Now, with “Top Gun: Maverick” cruising toward cinemas later this year, it’s starting to seem like the long-awaited second installment of the series may be every bit as pulse-pounding as the original.
At just about a year old when the first “Top Gun” hit theaters, I grew up watching Maverick and Goose soaring in the skies above what is formally referred to as the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, and as a young man, I obviously rooted for Pete Mitchell as he fought to keep his spot at the stick of his legendary F-14 Tomcat. Now, however, as I re-watch the film from the vantage point of a Marine veteran that’s led teams comprised of young service members, I can’t help but find myself rooting for Val Kilmer’s Iceman instead.
See, while the original “Top Gun” followed the exploits of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the complaints levied about Mav throughout the movie by his superior officers and fellow pilots all seem entirely founded. Maverick’s iconic tower fly-by’s, for instance, would not be met with a stern talking to like depicted in the movie. Instead, such a dangerous and reckless maneuver would likely result in Maverick being relieved of duty. In fact, the highly decorated Lt. Col. Ralph Featherstone was just relieved of his command last week for executing a similar flyby stunt. But that’s not the only way Maverick put other service members in danger in the first movie.
Maverick seemed to be legitimately suffering panic attacks while at the stick of his F-14 on more than one occasion during the first film, and while many of us can relate, he should never have been flying a supersonic fighter full of ordnance and a weapons officer under those circumstances. Repeatedly throughout the movie, Maverick demonstrates a disregard for his fellow pilots, a medical inability to perform his job effectively, and an attitude that might have been charming, but would be seen as downright disrespectful to his various commands.
Sure, I love him for it, but I wouldn’t if I were in the Navy with him.
So now, with Maverick a Navy Captain (O-6) in “Top Gun: Maverick,” it’s easy to see how the show-boating pilot might land himself in hot water. In the decades since the first “Top Gun” was filmed, the Navy has only become more risk averse in its pilot training. Today, mock dogfights do not allow aircraft to come to within 1,000 feet of one another as a safety precaution. In the six minutes of footage we’ve gotten through three trailers, Maverick seems to violate that safety regulation just about every time he’s in a cockpit, even flying between two fighters in formation at one point in an extremely dangerous fashion.
Again, as a movie goer, I eat this stuff up… but if I were one of those Super Hornet pilots, I’d be pretty upset that the salty old captain almost just killed me to prove he’s a good pilot.
Now, I’ve gone on record multiple times to say that movies don’t need to be realistic to be fun, and I stand by that assertion, and despite what I think about Maverick as an officer, it’s never stopped me from loving the original… and it certainly won’t stop me from buying a ticket for the sequel. In fact, the idea that Maverick may finally be held accountable for his daredevil exploits may even add that final bit of realism I needed to sleep soundly in my Top Gun pajamas.
“Top Gun: Maverick” will hit theaters this June 26, and you can bet I’ll be there — court martial or not.
Feature photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures