8 Top Gun: Maverick Details That Prove Tom Cruise’s Obsession With Realistic Flight Scenes Paid Off

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Top Gun: Maverick’s success arguably saved the movie industry. These eight details proved Cruise’s commitment to making the best movie possible.

One of the most popular films of 2022 was Top Gun: Maverick, and Tom Cruise’s concern with making the sequel as realistic as possible was a key factor in its popularity. Many people were surprised by the 36-year gap between the original Top Gun in 1986 and its 2022 sequel, but because to significant advancements in filmmaking technology over the years, the wait was well worth it. Additionally, throughout the three-decade gap, Cruise’s star power increased enormously, guaranteeing he would have much more creative control over this movie than its predecessor.

Tom Cruise has established himself as one of the busiest performers in the industry thanks to his career in movies, and with each new film, fans eagerly anticipate the creative and innovative feats Cruise will pull off. Cruise made sure the work the US Navy does was accurately portrayed in Top Gun: Maverick by putting more of an emphasis on realism and accuracy than he did on stunts (although he performed many of them). The 2022 summer blockbuster benefited from Cruise’s concern with authenticity in terms of speech, costume, and acting technique.

8. Top Gun Is A Real School

While this might seem like a no-brainer, Top Gun is an actual school in the United States. Top Gun is merely a nickname for what’s actually called the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, and the school has been in existence since 1969. While it’s more of a means of testing pilots’ aptitude for war than it is about learning how to handle oneself in dogfights, the nickname “Top Gun” came from the fact that most jets during its inception had guns on top of them.

Top Gun: Maverick respects and authentically represents the school as it should be represented. While most viewers might believe that there are constant, intense dogfights taking place at Top Gun, the truth is that the school is much like any other one a student could attend. There are egos and other such things, to be sure, but the movie’s portrayal of intensely committed people who want to serve their country by doing ordinary things rings more true than anything else in it.

7. Fighter Pilots Are Issued Aviator Glasses

While it may seem like an obvious thing to some and an innocuous detail to others, Cruise’s Maverick along with his fellow onscreen Navy airmen and airwomen are seen wearing a pair of aviator glasses throughout the movie. Aside from indoor scenes, audiences could almost always count on seeing any of the characters wearing the glasses that have become synonymous with the Navy. Sure aviators look cool, but they have a more practical purpose that most folks might overlook.

According to real fighter pilots, aviators are worn on the base and in their jets because they provide the best coverage of the sky. Additionally, aviators allow fighter pilots to endure the harsh and ever-changing weather conditions that they have to endure while completing drills or actual missions. Even though this trend is settling down a bit, it still is very common to see fighter pilots either wearing aviators or sheathing them in between their shirts while indoors.

6. Penny Ringing The Bell At The Bar Is Real

The barkeep’s dramatic ringing of a bell whenever someone did something they weren’t supposed to in a bar was a rather amusing detail Cruise was preoccupied with displaying to viewers. The bell is rung to enforce numerous rules that some pilots might intentionally or unintentionally infringe, whether it’s at a pilots’ club or a bar. Even while it was amusing when it occurred in the film, its real-life ramifications are much more dire.

To be a member of the US Navy, the person must display the utmost respect at all times when on the base. If they wear a cap indoors, act rowdy (whether under the influence or not), put their phone on the bar, go behind the bar, etc. the bells are rung loudly and clearly. This is done to maintain order and discipline on the base. In Maverick, Maverick is the one who Penny rings the bell for, and it happens in front of all his students. This moment was a great subtle way to remind him that nobody is special or exempt from following the rules.

5. Afterburner Is Real And Not Just Cool Looking

On many occasions, the various jets in Top Gun: Maverick can be seen emitting a fiery orange flame from their exhausts during takeoff from the carriers and other scenes. One would be forgiven for assuming this was CGI or some other sort of filmmaking wizardry at play, but as it turns out, this is fairly common in real life. This unique visual is known as an afterburner, and it’s a strategy that is used to give jets an extra thrust or boost when taking off.
4. Maverick Really Would Be Leagues Ahead Of His Students

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Afterburner is used in instances that require a speedy completion of a mission or even a training drill. While the standard amount of thrust at an F-18 Hornet (the jets most commonly seen in the movie) can attain just under 11,000 pounds of thrust, afterburner allows them to achieve 18,000 almost in an instant. Because most casual audiences would be none the wise and would assume this is something that is always supposed to happen, its inclusion speaks to Cruise’s attention to the minor details.

One of the key aspects of Maverick’s character is how despite his shortcomings in his personal life, he is an exceptionally skilled fighter pilot. While his unorthodox methods often cause him to clash heads with his superiors and even fellow pilots, they have to concede to the results that his passion brings. Observing his role in Top Gun: Maverick he’s shown to completely and utterly outmatch his students with an almost unrealistic zeal and flair, but the reality of this depiction is that it isn’t too far off from the truth.

In real life, the most proficient student isn’t even nearly half as skilled or qualified as the most proficient instructors. This is necessary because the work that fighter pilots do is very complex and nuanced – and for fledgling pilots to truly grasp the nature of their responsibilities, they have to be humbled by a highly skilled pilot early on. While some may have felt Maverick was being harsh on his new students, Cruise’s Oscar-worthy performance was much more realistic than some may have realized.

3. The Physics Seen In Top Gun: Maverick Are Accurate

The IMAX cameras’ ability to handle and capture the kinetic force in its rawest form was one of Top Gun: Maverick’s most outstanding features. Fighter pilots in the real world have acknowledged that not every day is as exciting as one might think, but they have also mentioned that when things become serious in the air, it is frequently highly physically taxing. Given that Cruise holds a commercial pilot’s license in real life, it comes as no surprise that he wanted to once more enter the cockpit to demonstrate the power of the Navy’s jets.

One consistent criticism about the original Top Gun is that it didn’t depict the effects of flying around in these fighter jets. Top Gun: Maverick, on the other hand, showed the effects in subtle ways with the characters’ interactions with each other. While many of the men on the team had huge chips on their shoulders for personal reasons, a part of the bad attitudes was also due to the stressors of spending countless hours in the sky.

2. Maverick Saying “I Have Information Alpha”

Arguably one of the biggest details that casual audiences would no doubt miss is the dialogue and codes used throughout the movie. As far as most people were concerned, the dialogue used during the dogfights could have been made up for the movie to heighten the action. However, as many active and retired Navy personnel have acknowledged, so much can be communicated with seemingly minor call signs and codes.

Retired astronaut and engineer Chris Hadfield expressed his joy over hearing Maverick say, “I have Information Alpha” despite it being said early in the movie and seemingly not meaning much. This phrase essentially means Maverick is aware of the weather and knows which runway is active, so his commanders don’t have to repeat themselves. What’s more impressive about this moment is that according to Hadfield, it didn’t even need to be in the movie because almost nobody would get it, and its inclusion verified Cruise as a real pilot.

1. Top Gun: Maverick’s Final Mission Is Realistic

The depiction of the climactic mission in Top Gun: Maverick was completely spot-on. Everything from the low-level dips to the high acceleration climbs, the barrel rolls, and the high G-turns that were shown during the movie’s final moments were things that real pilots not only do but do routinely. Many of these techniques are utilized so that pilots’ bodies can sustain the shifts in pressure while maneuvering through the sky.

The expectations set by the trailers were significantly exceeded by Cruise’s request that the cameras be positioned inside the cockpits for these dramatic scenes in Top Gun: Maverick. It also demonstrated Cruise’s understanding of and respect for what fighter pilots go through on an almost daily basis, highlighting the need for more realism in films. There’s a high chance Steven Spielberg wouldn’t have claimed Top Gun: Maverick saved Hollywood if Cruise had chosen to cut corners and call it a day.

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