‘Top Gun: Maverick’: Wild Fan Theory Suggests Mav Is Dead the Whole Time

by Craig Garrett
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Top Gun: Maverick is finally streaming on demand at places like Amazon Prime, and fan theories are starting to run rampant. It’s only natural for the summer’s biggest blockbuster to get reevaluated as it hits home video. What follows could be a spoiler for the new film, so be warned.

The new Top Gun movie is a prime example of how a straightforward plotline can succeed. Critics have pointed to the film’s emotional narrative as one reason for its immense pre-pandemic box office success. The story follows Maverick, Tom Cruise’s character, who returns to the Top Gun school 36 years after he originally attended in order to train Navy pilot recruits for a high-stakes mission. It’s not exactly a complex story.

However, a recent review on The Bulwark makes things a little more complicated. In Top Gun: Maverick‘s opening sequence, Maverick takes it upon himself to demonstrate that man can outpace a machine. The Navy is ready to shut down Maverick’s prototype jet in favor of developing drones. Of course, he goes renegade and flies his plane at Mach-10 speed in order to prove he’s faster than any drone operated by a zoomer. However, he feels the need for speed and pushes too far. Eventually, the jet overheats and explodes.

A Fan Theory questions what happened after that opening explosion in Top Gun: Maverick

Apparently, Maverick was barely fazed by the explosion. We see him in the very next scene, stepping into a diner a little singed, but fine. However, this fan theory states that Maverick didn’t get away so easily from the explosion. According to this theory, everything that happens in the next hour and 45 minutes is happening in an afterlife experience. The events of the sequel are just the veteran coming to terms with the losses he felt during the events of the original Top Gun. In it, Maverick comes to terms with losing his best friend Goose during a training exercise in the first movie.

This certainly explains why the belated sequel hits so many of the same beats as the original film. Maverick reignites an old romance with Jennifer Connelly’s character. He also bids farewell to a close friend in Iceman, and finally resolves his Top Gun academy trauma regarding Goose’s death. This theory posits that Rooster (played by Miles Teller) doesn’t actually blame Maverick for his father’s death. Maybe it’s all self-blame, and Maverick is projecting onto Rooster. It’s essentially Maverick righting all of his wrongs before moving on into the afterlife.

Sure, it’s a little far-fetched. It’s much more likely that the writers simply wanted to recapture the success of the original iconic film. Following the playbook certainly worked, as the film is the biggest earner of Tom Cruise’s career so far.

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