Tom Cruise’s Pre-‘Maverick’ Decision: A Potential Hurdle for ‘Top Gun 3’, What’s Next for the Top Gun Series?

The Unusual Road to Top Gun’s Success

You can’t talk about high-flying Hollywood without mentioning Tom Cruise’s name, especially when the “Top Gun” franchise is involved. While the long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, took flight after years of anticipation and a pandemic-related delay, it became more than just a box-office sensation. Credited with saving Hollywood and raking in an astounding $1.5 billion globally, the sequel’s tremendous success now steers the conversation toward the certainty of a third installment. But here’s where it gets a little complicated—thanks to some decision-making from Cruise himself.

How Tom Cruise’s Maverick Approach Complicates Top Gun 3

“Top Gun 3 can’t be in the third film’s title,” says anyone who’s aware of Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick naming decree. The star-producer didn’t want a number in the sequel film’s title, potentially aiming to sidestep the mess of numerical sequels he’d seen in his Mission: Impossible franchise. While it worked for Top Gun: Maverick, it left a sort of narrative turbulence for future installments.

Cruise’s decisions don’t just stop at the name. The actor’s significant influence over the franchise makes it unlikely he’ll step back from the leading role. This brings us to a crossroads: How do you create a sequel to a film that’s supposed to offer closure to a character while still keeping the character’s name as the franchise’s cornerstone?

Risky Business: What’s in a Name?

“Dropping ‘Maverick’ from Top Gun 3’s title implies that Tom Cruise’s character will take on more of a wingman role,” say industry insiders. But here’s the rub: if the narrative of the third movie doesn’t align with that implication, the franchise might face an identity crisis.

The next movie can’t be called Top Gun 3 or Top Gun: Maverick 2, which puts it in an awkward situation. It’s as if the franchise is flying without a compass. However, there might be a way out. Miles Teller’s character, Rooster, could share the limelight in the next film. A title like Top Gun: Maverick & Rooster could solve the numbering issue without undercutting Cruise’s iconic role, although it would also be a radical departure from the franchise’s traditional naming convention.

The Future of Top Gun: A Franchise in Flux

Tom Cruise is known for doing his own stunts, but his influence over the Top Gun franchise is a whole different type of aerial acrobatics. His decisions could either make or break the franchise’s future, especially if the next installment can’t find a suitable name. We’ll just have to wait and see if Cruise can steer this one back on course or if this will be the moment when the franchise has to eject.

In an age where cinematic universes and sequels dominate the big screen, nailing the title for Top Gun 3 could be as critical as hitting an enemy target at Mach 2. But as it stands, it’s safe to say that Cruise has put the franchise into a tailspin, albeit an intriguing one. Whether this spiral leads to a smooth landing or an emergency eject is a story only time will tell.