Top Gun: Maverick was meant to be out by now, ending the long wait for fans of more than 30 years since the original.
However, the current global situation led to yet another delay for the sequel and now Tom Cruise's Maverick will finally be requesting a second flyby next summer, meaning that it'll be two years since the movie's first planned release date in July 2019.
That's as long as there's not another delay, of course...
Jon Hamm has at least been promising that the sequel is worth the wait. "It's everything you hope it's going to be," he told Today. "The movie has exactly the right mix of nostalgia for the first one, but then the continuation of the story and the characters."
Cruise will be hoping nobody has lost their need for speed in the extended wait as Maverick returns to pass his wisdom onto a new batch of Top Gun recruits, before they head on a specialised mission that has never been seen before.
It looks like we're going to have to strap in for high-intensity thrill ride, but what else can we expect from Top Gun: Maverick.
Top Gun 2 release date: When is Top Gun Maverick released?
The sequel was originally set for release on July 12, 2019 before it was hit with a delay of a whole year. Things were looking up though after that date was moved forward slightly to June 24, 2020 in the US and July 17, 2020 in the UK.
Tom Cruise responded to the initial delay with a message to fans: "I know many of you have waited 34 years. Unfortunately, it will be a little longer."
But why did it take so long for a sequel to be made in the first place? Cruise explained that it was all because he doesn't "make movies just to make movies".
"I honestly never thought I would make it," he revealed. "We just started talking. And I realised that there were things that we could accomplish cinematically. And I started getting excited about this big challenge of, 'How do we do it?'"
Filming on the sequel took place from May 2018 to June 2019.
Top Gun 2 trailer: Watch the Top Gun Maverick trailer here!
When the trailer was finally released, fans were quick to spot similarities between it and the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, citing specific shots that seemed almost identical to Episode VII's trailer.
The second trailer landed on December 16, 2019 as an early festive treat for Top Gun fans.
Top Gun 2 cast: Who's starring in Top Gun Maverick?
It's been more than 30 years since they faced off to be the best of the best, battling for the title of 'Top Gun' at the US Navy Fighter Weapons School in Miramar. But Top Gun 2 will definitely see rivals Maverick (Cruise) and Iceman (Val Kilmer) reunite.
Director Joseph Kosinski is keeping tight-lipped over how their relationship has changed in the intervening years though.
"The rivalry and relationship between Iceman and Maverick is one of those things that makes that first film so iconic," he said. "It's a relationship that is important to the Top Gun franchise and as a fan I would want to see how it's evolved."
But how has Maverick changed in the decades since we last saw him? Well, he hasn't exactly.
"In so many ways he's still the guy that we remember from the first Top Gun, Kosinski told Empire. "He keeps that old Ninja under a tarp in the hangar and still wears those Ray-Ban aviators. He's the best at what he does, and he's given his whole life to aviation.
"But that has come as a personal cost, and Maverick has to confront some things from his past and reconcile with them. It's a rite-of-passage story, much like the first film was. But this is a man now at a different stage of life."
At one point Kilmer seemed to confirm that there would be a role for the otherwise retired Gene Hackman in the sequel. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a spot of dream casting and was quickly retracted.
One person who won't be back from the original is Michael Ironside as Lieutenant Commander Rick "Jester" Heatherly, with the actor putting it down to the fact that his relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer apparently isn't the greatest.
As for Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, actor Tom Skerritt has yet to confirm whether the character will return in the sequel.
Though the character does not appear in the trailer, some fans suspect the funeral scene depicted might be that of Viper. Say it ain't so! After being rumoured for the role of Goose's son, Glen Powell did sign up for the movie in a mystery role named Hangman.
The sequel will also star Jennifer Connelly as the movie's female lead, playing a single mother who runs a local bar near the Navy base. She'll be joined by Jon Hamm and Ed Harris, the latter as a so far unnamed rear admiral and Maverick's direct superior.
A new pilot named Fritz will be played by The Good Place star Manny Jacinto, and a busy cast is rounded out with:
- Monica Barbaro
- Chelsea Harris
- Charles Parnell
- Jay Ellis
- Bashir Salahuddin
- Danny Ramirez
- Lewis Pullman
- Kara Wang
- Jack Schumacher
- Greg Tarzan Davis
- Jake Picking
- Raymond Lee
- Jean Louisa Kelly
- Lyliana Wray
Top Gun 2 plot: What's Top Gun Maverick about?
The official plot synopsis for the sequel is as follows:
"After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.
"When he finds himself training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a specialised mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt Bradley Bradshaw, call sign 'Rooster', the son of Maverick's late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt Nick Bradshaw, aka 'Goose'.
"Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it."
The world might have changed since the first movie for Maverick, but expect him to still be undertaking intense flights, ones so big that the crew had to ask the Navy for permission to film one of the most extreme stunts.
Cruise's co-star Jennifer Connelly described them as "extraordinary", and the rest of the cast didn't get away with letting Cruise do all the stunts either.
Speaking to Yahoo, producer Jerry Bruckheimer said: "[Cruise] put the actors through this gruelling process over three months so they could take the G-forces when we put them in the F/A-18s.
"It was really a tough slog for these young actors, because they also had to go through water survival training, where they are blindfolded and put in a water tank that's turned upside down and they have to figure out how to get out.
"And Tom went through all the same stuff! They told me he went through that training just like a 22-year-old would — that's how good he is."
In case you didn't believe them about the lack of CGI, the producers released this breathtaking video:
Bruckheimer added: "What's different about this movie is that [in the original Top Gun] we put the actors in the F-14s and we couldn't use one frame of it, except some stuff on Tom, because they all threw up."
"It's hysterical to see their eyes roll back in their heads. So everything was done on a gimbal. But in this movie, Tom wanted to make sure the actors could actually be in the F-18s."
Top Gun: Maverick is out in cinemas on July 2, 2021.
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