(NOTE: This is not really on topic for this blog, but sometimes you just get a random thought, so here it is.)
Hi, it’s me. Summer is coming, which means Mark and Laura will soon be wandering the globe, maybe posting weird things. To get you in the right mindset, here’s a truly random post for your pleasure. Or perhaps displeasure, you will have to choose.
A few days back we were riding our bikes and my mind wandered to the impending release of Top Gun 2. The first Top Gun arrived at a pivotal time in my life, solidifying my lifelong desire to be a military pilot (you can see how well that worked out). It may have also led to the early termination of a relationship with a young woman who might have wanted to marry me, but who definitely had serious doubts about the safety of a military career. Or it could have been total coincidence. Either way, it worked out better for both of us this way.
As I was rolling along, I realized that I already know the plot of this yet-to-be-produced film, and as a loyal reader I am going to share this BIG TIME SPOILER with you ABSOLUTELY FREE. Using my powers of deductive reasoning, I will tell you what the movie will, and will not include. NOTE: If you want to wait for the surprise when the movie comes out in 2019 or whenever it arrives, leave this page now. You have been warned.
In this movie, there are a handful of things that are an absolute lock, hence I can tell you that the following things will occur, with 100% certainty.
- Tom Cruise will play Maverick, who will still be all mavericky like Sarah Palin, but with no interest in ice hockey or politics. Maverick will be older (more on this later), but will still have the same general arrogance he had before, though now he will be better at concealing it.
- Maverick’s backseat driver Goose will not appear, having unceremoniously died in the first outing. I estimate a 20% chance of Goose appearing in a dream sequence, as the aging Maverick (more on this later) ponders his own life. If this dream does occur, I estimate a 7% chance that Goose will be surrounded by a glowing blue aura like these guys:
- Ice Man, Maverick’s sometimes nemesis, sometimes brother-in-arms will not, under any circumstances, appear in this film (not even in a blue-tinged dream sequence). While Tom Cruise has aged better than any other single actor of his generation (more on this later), Val Kilmer, who followed Top Gun with his own massively successful career (including an outing as Batman), has not weathered the years quite as well, despite the Iceman t-shirt he’s wearing to remind himself of better, buffer days:
- Maverick’s co-lead in the film will be a young hot-shot pilot who “ain’t got time for all that blah blah” from old man Maverick. It’s no coincidence that he will distinctly remind you of young Maverick from the previous movie. There is a 15% chance the young hot-shot will be a female pilot, since that seems to be the way things are rolling today (e.g. Ghost Busters, the latest Oceans film, etc.) but that might complicate fulfilling Cruz’s contractual agreement that he gets to kiss the girl during each and every movie.
- Maverick will dislike the young hotshot in return, though the audience will immediately see how much they need each other, and will quickly begin rooting for the inevitable bromance (unless he’s a she, then ‘romance’) to begin.
- The climax of the film will involve Maverick shooting down the hotshot pilot in order to re-assert his own badness. Just kidding.
- Eventually the two of them will come to some understanding and both will emerge as winners. There might even be an appropriately brief and absolutely masculine hug. Or maybe just a fist bump. There will be nothing like that very uncomfortable beach volleyball scene in the original movie.
- IN A MOMENT OF TOTAL GLOBAL TERROR MELTDOWN, MAVERICK WILL BE “FORCED” BACK INTO THE COCKPIT OF A PLANE, TO DO WHAT APPARENTLY NOT ANY OTHER SINGLE PERSON IN THE MIGHTIEST MILITARY FORCE EVER ASSEMBLED IN ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY IS CAPABLE OF DOING. THIS IS A 110% PURE SOLID LOCK. IT WILL HAPPEN. IT WILL MAKE NO SENSE, AND IT WILL HAPPEN ANYWAY. If letting a younger, more skilled pilot fly the mission were to happen in his movies, then Tom would still be going by his real name, Thomas Mapother IV. Also you would never have heard of him because he would probably be working in a feed store in Omaha. But nobody messes with Tom Cruise, who does most of his own stunts, and has the broken ankle to prove it.
- The movie will do well, but not super well, setting the stage for a sequel. Top Gun 3 will follow Top Gun 2 much more promptly than Top Gun 2 followed Top Gun and Top Gun IV, V, and VI are probably already being filmed in secret. Disney will eventually own it all (more on this later), and by “all” I mean the entire universe, not just the rights to this film series.
Let me speak briefly about Thomas Mapother IV’s age in the film. Cruise will be 56 this summer, but will undoubtedly play at least 10 years younger in this film. Why? Because he can. If you haven’t seen TC (a.k.a. TM4) lately, he is probably the best preserved star in Hollywood today, well on track to succeed Robert Redford, who has himself aged less than any celebrity except perhaps Mickey Mouse. By my calculations when Top Gun XVI comes out, Cruise will be 104 playing 56.
He will also play younger than his age because has been doing this his whole career.
- Risky Business (1983): Cruise was 21, playing a high school kid who could pass for a middle school kid.
- The Firm (1993): Cruise was 31, playing a freshly minted lawyer around 25.
- Legend (1985): Cruise was 23, playing a character described as “Forest Boy,” so draw your own conclusions.
So even though it has been more than three decades since the original flick, the character of Maverick won’t have aged 30 years. And whoever he’s dating will still be (or at least appear to be) under 30.
Expect Tom Cruise to be paid over $15 million for this film, probably well over that. Why did I pick that number? Because in 1986, the original movie was made for a total budget, all in, all done, including 40 gallons of body oil for the volleyball scene, of $15 million. Action movies today spend more than that on energy drinks. Instead, expect the new release to cost somewhere around $368 million, which is how much the original earned at the box office (this one better do at least $800 million or somebody at Paramount will be headed for the danger zone, and it will not be TM4). Also know in advance that it will have great music and fantastic flying sequences, and that Maverick will continue to pilot his high performance jet with his oxygen mask hanging loosely to the side so you can see his amazing smile, rather than attached to his face where both his mouth and nose are located.
Why, after thirty years, is Paramount bringing Maverick (but not Goose) out of retirement and launching him back into the danger zone? The whole “Bring back the star of an old movie to play the seasoned veteran opposite a brash young star in a new movie” is a time-honored Hollywood formula for making really
great movies huge amounts of money.
In Creed (2015), a geriatric Rocky Balboa returns to the world of boxing to train a hot young fighter. NOTE: A sequel, creatively titled Creed 2, is scheduled to open this year. I’m not joking. I wish I were. Sylvester Stallone is 71, and has aged far less well than TC4, though not as badly as Val Kilmer. Yo, Adrian, where are my readers?
Cruise himself has starred in one of these gigs before, but on the other end of the deal. Paul Newman reprised his role as Fast Eddie Felson from the 1961 pool hall drama The Hustler, to head 1986’s The Color of Money. The arrogant understudy he was trying to train? None other than a young Tom Cruise. Cruise won the big pool tournament, and Newman won an Oscar. Expect Cruise to eventually reprise his role in a still-to-be named sequel-sequel about an aging pool player, who was once mentored by another aging pool player, and is now himself mentoring a younger pool player, who is secretly an undercover fighter pilot. Also he’s cocky. Also expect Cruise to be 97 but play 72.
Did I mention that Maverick will win the final battle of the coming movie, likely after almost going down for the count at least twice, and probably with the help of the arrogant young pilot he’s trying to mentor? This, naturally, will set the stage for a whole cinematic universe dedicated to Tom Cruise and his amazing smile. Naturally, Paramount will sell this entire package to Disney, which will begin cranking out new hybridized films that mash up Cruise/Maverick with story lines from other Disney properties. A few obvious possibilities include:
- Frozen Forces, in which a live action Maverick finds himself paired with the animated snowman Olaf as his co-pilot. Olaf winds up like Goose.
- Toy Story IV: Danger Zone. When Slinky Dog is captured by the evil kid next door, Woody and Buzz recruit a new toy named Maverick, whose secret weapons are his airplane and his laser-like smile.
- Captain America: F-14 Attack Squadron. This is so obvious it needs no explanation, ending with Maverick and Cap’ having a smiling contest, which ends in a draw, followed by an entirely masculine hug.
- The undersea drama Finding Maverick, in which a clown fish named Nemo and his confused friend Ellen Degeneres befriend a Navy Seal (get it–a seal!) named Maverick (Cruise at 65, playing 26).
- Pooh’s Final Flight, in which Winnie the Pooh takes to the air under his trusty balloons, but begins drifting toward the no-fly zone around the White House. Maverick spends several minutes yelling, “Eject! Eject!” into the radio, before knocking a cocky young pilot unconscious, stealing his plane, and blasting Pooh to bits, all while humming “Highway to the Danger Zone.” And smiling.
- Something about Bambi and an aircraft carrier (they’re still fleshing this idea out, but it definitely has potential). Val Kilmer plays a really scary villain.
- And finally Mission: Impossible 6. Oh wait, that one’s coming out next month.