Top Gun 3: Tom Cruise Replaced? Not If It Follows His Rule

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

favorite movie Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick

Could we actually see Top Gun 3 at some point? Top Gun: Maverick was always going to be a success despite arriving nearly 30 years after the blockbuster first film re-defined action films in the 80s. Tom Cruise was already well on the way to becoming a star, but his turn as Maverick launched him into the stratosphere, and he’s never come back down since.

For decades, there was talk of a sequel, but when it finally came out in 2022, no one expected it to set all-time records.

Earning nearly $1.5 billion at the box office, Top Gun: Maverick is being credited as the film that brought audiences back to theaters in record numbers. $723 million of the total came from the United States, setting a record for Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and surpassing all 2022 films. With that level of success, a third film seems like a no-brainer, but is that the case?

It Took Decades For A Top Gun Sequel

top gun
Top Gun

When Top Gun hit theaters, the demand for a sequel was immediate. Over the years, scripts were submitted but turned down until the thought eventually faded. Legendary director Tony Scott turned down pitches until 2010 when producer David Ellison (known for Amazon’s Jack Ryan and the last two Star Trek movies) made the pitch that would become Top Gun: Maverick.

The film was ready to go in 2020, but when Covid hit and theaters shut down Top Gun: Maverick was delayed….and delayed….and delayed again, a total of five times. Yet audiences would agree it was worth the wait.

Top Gun 3 Could Be Even Better According To Tom Cruise

top gun maverick
Top Gun: Maverick

Given the eye-popping amount of money that Top Gun: Maverick made at the box office, a third film seems like a slam dunk. Fandomwire unearthed a quote from a Tom Cruise interview in which he says, Every movie we make, I look at it, I’m watching it, and I say, ‘We can do better.'” Regarding if a follow-up to his latest billion-dollar film could surpass the sequel, Cruise said, “I think I can.”

At this point, the entire cast and crew have been asked about the prospects for Top Gun 3, and everyone has remained tight-lipped while following the lead of Cruise and saying they’d love to do it.

Sadly, there’s been no official announcement, and Cruise has remained cagey when answering direct questions about a third film. On the other hand, no one from Paramount or involved with Maverick has come out and said that Top Gun 3 won’t be happening. Again, it feels like a third film is inevitable.

The Possible Plot To A Third Movie

Glen Powell and Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick

The new class introduced in Top Gun: Maverick included the perfect legacy character for a third movie, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, played by Miles Teller. Tom Cruise can start to take more of a backseat in Top Gun 3 while Rooster and Jake “Hangman” Seresin, a breakthrough role for Glen Powell, take center stage. Now that Rooster has started to heal from the trauma of his dad, Goose, dying during duty, what’s next for the pilot?

Top Gun 3, focusing on the growing friendship between Rooster and Hangman, could further echo Maverick and Iceman (Val Kilmer) from the first film. It’s familiar ground, but so was the sequel, and it proved that a well-told story doesn’t have to be unique; it can just be a fun story. The pair could even now be the veterans in charge of a new crew of hot shot pilots while Maverick gets to ride off into the sunset.

A potential new mission in Top Gun 3 could focus on rescue or active air support for an ongoing conflict instead of remaining laser-focused on dog-fighting. Involving other branches of the armed forces beyond the Navy could allow fun interpersonal dynamics and, if done right, might even lay the groundwork for an Army or Marines spin-off down the road.

The Potential Top Gun 3 Cast

Within weeks of Top Gun: Maverick’s release, Miles Teller revealed to Deadline he’s in talks for a third film. Of course, Tom Cruise will have to return for a third film, as right now, there’s no franchise without the superstar.

Glen Powell hasn’t committed to returning, but it’s safe to assume that he’d be back, as would nearly anyone in the cast if schedules permit. Born to play a Naval Commander, Jon Hamm could easily return as Beau “Cyclone” Simpson, but up in the air is Jennifer Connolly.

Connolly debuted in Top Gun: Maverick as Penny, the admiral’s daughter mentioned in the first film, and while it seems like her story is done, if she does come back, it would hopefully mean wedding bells for Maverick.

Yet if she isn’t able to reprise her role, it would also be fitting since Kelly McGillis wasn’t asked back for the sequel. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight (via Yahoo), the actress explained she thought she wasn’t asked back as she “got old.”

One star that could return for Top Gun 3 that most people forget was ever involved with the franchise is Meg Ryan, as Carole, the wife of Goose and mother of Rooster. Her return in the third movie would further the theme of “legacy” that goes through Rooster while also serving as a fun callback to the original film.

The Top Gun 3 Release

top gun: maverick tom cruise

It is going to be a long time before we get Top Gun 3, and it has nothing to do with the strikes that brought Hollywood to a standstill. Tom Cruise is a very busy actor, with Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 2, an Edge of Tomorrow sequel, and a movie shot entirely in space. More projects are likely waiting in the wings, as this is just what is publicly available.

Top Gun: Maverick took two years to film, and that was after six years of pre-production. Ideally, with a lot of work done already regarding filming in modern aircraft, a third movie will only take a fraction of the time to produce.

Once he’s done with the Mission Impossible franchise, hopefully, Tom Cruise will start work on Top Gun 3. He’s 61 years old, but as Liam Neeson and Sylvester Stallone have proved, action stars can keep going for as long as they want. The earliest we’d get the third film would likely be 2027.