Tom Cruise crashes Comic-Con with the high-flying 'Top Gun: Maverick' trailer

San Diego Comic-Con was holding out for a hero, and Tom Cruise answered the call. To the surprise, and delight, of the SDCC crowd, the Mission: Impossible star crashed the Terminator: Dark Fate panel to premiere the first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to his era-defining blockbuster. Released in 1986, the original Top Gun is peak ’80s in terms of its music video-like visuals, an unapologetic celebration of muscular machismo and a pop soundtrack cranked up to 11. Based on the trailer, Top Gun: Maverick is going to celebrate that past ... while also bringing the title character into the present day. (Watch the trailer above.)

Set 34 years after the previous film, the sequel reveals that hotshot Navy flyboy Peter “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) has advanced from “lieutenant” to “captain” in the intervening decades. “You can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire and despite your best efforts, you refuse to die,” his superior officer (Ed Harris) muses. “You should be at least a two-star admiral by now. What is that?” If Maverick knows the answer, he’s not telling: “It’s one of life’s mysteries, sir.

(Photo: Paramount Pictures)
(Image: Paramount Pictures)

Or maybe it’s not so mysterious. For one thing, remaining a captain allows Maverick to take an active role in the flight education of his surrogate son and new Navy recruit, Bradley (Miles Teller) — the offspring of his late partner, and best friend, Goose (Anthony Edwards), whose death provided the emotional crux of the original film. Teller is only glimpsed briefly in the Cruise-heavy trailer, and there are no sightings of Val Kilmer, who is set to reprise his role as Maverick’s former nemesis, Iceman, in his highest-profile role since his throat cancer diagnosis. “It will be a great film, I promise,” Kilmer told The Hollywood Reporter in February . “This time around had me laughing with Tom like a high schooler. He’s so funny.”

But there’s another reason why Maverick is loath to give up flying the friendly skies in favor of the desk duties that come with the rank of admiral. He just really, really loves flying, as evidenced by the jaw-dropping aerial footage on display in the trailer. In that way, Cruise is a lot like his alter ego. The actor famously did much of his own flying in movies like American Made and Mission: Impossible — Fallout (directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who is credited as a co-writer on Maverick), and told the SDCC audience that he logged plenty of airtime for this production as well. “Everything you see in this film is very real,” he stressed. Maverick co-star Jon Hamm has backed up Cruise’s claims. “The aerial footage is mind-blowing. And it’s mostly practical. ... Those guys are really up in planes and getting thrown around in multiple G’s” the actor told Collider in May.

Even though he can still outrace enemy planes, Cruise’s high-flying hero can’t outrace time. “The end is inevitable, Maverick — your kind is headed for extinction,” Harris tells him, making it clear that the Navy is ready to put his generation of pilots in the rearview. “Maybe so, sir, but not today,” Maverick replies. To borrow a lyric from another ‘80s favorite, he’s not gonna take it anymore.

Top Gun: Maverick flies into theaters on June 26, 2020.

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