Is "Top Gun 2" Still Happening?

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
November 8th, 2013

Is "Top Gun 2" Still Happening?

The long-awaited sequel to '80s Tom Cruise classic "Top Gun" hit the danger zone last year after the unexpected death of director Tony Scott. Along with Cruise and blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Scott had been scouting locations for the follow-up right up until his suicide. Paramount appeared to shelve the project at the time, and it remains up in the air at present.

At the time of Scott's death, the project seemed like a sure go. Two of the key figures of the first film—the respected director, Scott, and the well-known star, Cruise—were lined up to return for the sequel. An epically successful producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, was lined up to back the whole affair. Paramount, one of Hollywood's last power players, was fully on board. Finally, a talented screenwriting team had been pulled together to come up with a script.

Bruckheimer and Paramount alike remain optimistic, and Val Kilmer has recently announced he'd also like to be involved. Bruckheimer announced in June that Cruise was still on board with the project and that Paramount still wanted to release it.

Peter Craig ("The Town") joined Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (who both collaborated on "Thor" and "X-Men: First Class") to pull the script together and find a way to bring Maverick into the twenty-first century. With a solid writing team, the project can't help but draw all manner of curiosity. What would a sequel to "Top Gun" look like, nearly thirty years later? More importantly, should "Top Gun 2" actually happen?

Very little information about the plot has actually been released, likely because the project has been so consistently plagued by setbacks. Most recent information reveals that the story will focus on the drones used in modern warfare, marking an obvious and clear departure from the manned fighter planes that featured so prominently in the original.

It's safe to assume that any sequel would catch the audience up on the last thirty years of Maverick's life and introduce us to a new action-drama he's involved in, but how that might be approached is anyone's guess. Now, however, some people are beginning to discuss privately whether it might not just be best to finally lay "Top Gun" to bed.

A great deal of the original film's appeal was thanks to Scott's creative directorial decisions and a somewhat snappy script. Recapturing that dialogue might prove a real feat, and finding a director who can accurately capture Scott's vision, rather than leaving his own mark on the movie, may well be too big a job.

Even more importantly, though, "Top Gun" is a 1980s time capsule, a movie that captured the absolute essence of the era in everything from its wardrobe and hair styles to its soundtrack and special effects to its storyline. Are Generation X viewers who grew up idolizing the devil-may-care Maverick going to appreciate following him to what must now be his fairly advanced age? Do audiences want to watch his midlife crisis, or learn the stunningly boring details of his now-settled-down personal life?

These are the questions no one can really answer. In many ways, the right time for a sequel is three years later, not thirty. For a movie that's meant to be lighthearted, popcorn-munching escapism, the sheer reality that Maverick and Iceman are now middle-aged men could be distracting enough to detract from the film's enjoyability. Rather than being a nostalgic trip to a different time, like the recent release of "Top Gun 3D," it's possible that this sequel could succeed only in reminding its target audience that, well, they've gotten older.

Bruckheimer has his hands full for now. Up next from the popcorn-movie mogul are several franchise sequels. Bruckheimer will be bringing audiences two new installments in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series; he'll also be bringing back Nicolas Cage for "National Treasure 3." Most recently, Bruckheimer bombed at the box office—unusually—with this summer's "The Lone Ranger."

Cruise has been keeping busy as well. Earlier this year, he appeared opposite Morgan Freeman in "Oblivion," and "Edge of Tomorrow" is due for release next year. Cruise is also scheduled to make "Mission: Impossible 5" and "Van Helsing" in the near future.

It's pure speculation at this point. No plans are firm, and while people are still interested, the project is on hold without a director. The team involved is busy with other projects, and no one seems to have the time to jumpstart this one again. Of course, that could change at any moment as soon as a director is attached.