The news that Tom Cruise will decide whether Top Gun 3 looks to be a good decision for the overall franchise. The news that Top Gun 3 won’t arrive any time soon was broken by Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni last month. On his podcast The Town, Belloni noted that any movement on Top Gun 3 would ride entirely on series star Tom Cruise’s plans.
However, while this may sound like bad news for Top Gun franchise lovers who waited decades for Top Gun: Maverick, this could be the best thing for the sequel. Top Gun 3’s future being left to Cruise is much more interesting in terms of where the franchise can go creatively, since this means that the sequel will only happen if Cruise feels like he can take it to a whole other level and push things even further than Top Gun: Maverick did. While Top Gun 3 would be better for Cruise than Mission Impossible 9, the fact that Cruise makes so few sequels proves he’s seemingly never content with resting on his laurels.
Since Top Gun: Maverick’s triumphant ending saw Cruise’s Maverick bury his beef with Goose’s son Rooster, grow as a character, succeed at one last mission, and end up happy with a love interest, there’s an argument to be made that the series could end here. Admittedly, Top Gun: Maverick could be a perfect end to the series. After all, Maverick even said goodbye to Iceman in Top Gun: Maverick’s sweetest scene. However, this ignores one crucial detail of the Top Gun franchise, which is that the original Top Gun did not seem to need a sequel either until Top Gun: Maverick improved upon it.
Top Gun 3 should happen precisely because it seemed like there was no way that Top Gun: Maverick could recapture the cheesy, over-the-top tone of the uniquely 80s original until it did. Top Gun: Maverick felt true to the original Top Gun while also fleshing out Maverick and Iceman’s characters further, and Top Gun 3 could do the same for an older Maverick and a more mature, less aggressive Rooster, letting the series pass the torch onto a new generation. Meanwhile, in aesthetic terms, as Quentin Tarantino noted about Top Gun: Maverick, the movie was the closest thing to another Tony Scott movie that viewers had gotten in a decade and that would make another installment of Cruise’s franchise a welcome change in the current blockbuster landscape.
In terms of plot, Top Gun 3 should happen so the series can fix the dangling plot threads of Top Gun: Maverick. Maverick’s Navy career seemed to be heading from strength to strength at the end of the original Top Gun, and it was brutal to see him struggling at the start of Top Gun: Maverick. In contrast, Top Gun 3 could reasonably retire the aging, content family man. This would also allow Top Gun 3 to pit new rivals Hangman and Rooster against each other as Maverick’s replacement, and this plot could give Cruise’s character another chance to mentor the duo while also reflecting on his rivalry with Iceman, doing the late Top Gun: Maverick character justice in his absence.