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Tom Cruise Must Avoid Using A Fifth-Generation Fighter In Top Gun 3 (Despite Maverick Teasing It)

Summary Top Gun: Maverick romanticized the Navy’s technology, but the focus should remain on the pilots, not the planes.
Giving Maverick a fifth-generation fighter would make him too powerful, ruining the tension and challenges in the plot.
The sequel needs to find another way to maintain Maverick as an underdog, potentially by pitting him against malevolent AI-powered fifth-generation fighters.
While it might sound fun to see Top Gun 3’s Maverick flying a fifth-generation fighter, the sequel needs to avoid this temptation despite Top Gun: Maverick seemingly setting up the twist. The Top Gun movies have a complicated relationship with the Navy’s state-of-the-art technology. On the one hand, both the original Top Gun and its long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick function as glossy, glamorous advertisements for real-life military institutions. As such, Top Gun: Maverick romanticized the technology used by its heroes, from the experimental Darkstar jet piloted by Maverick to the many immersive VR simulations.
On the other hand, the Top Gun movies have always been about the pilots, not their planes. As such, although the US Navy is equipped with far more advanced aircraft than any other country’s military, Top Gun: Maverick’s ending saw Maverick and Rooster fly to safety in a Tomcat F-14. Ironically, although Top Gun and its sequel both endeavored to make the Navy look cool and impressive, this meant that the characters needed to succeed despite a disadvantage. To make the heroes into underdogs, Maverick and company couldn’t access many of the Navy’s most advanced real-life aircraft and weaponry.
Related 8 Planes That We Could See In Top Gun 3 Top Gun 3 will have to up the ante from Top Gun: Maverick’s collection of fighter jets, but the series still has new heights to explore.
Top Gun 3’s Maverick Flying A Fifth-Generation Fighter Would Be Too Easy
Maverick is already overpowered even without a hyper-modern aircraft
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As a result of the Top Gun movies focusing on their pilots and not the technology that they use, Top Gun 3 can’t give Maverick a fifth-generation fighter. If the franchise’s incredibly skilled pilot was flying one of the most advanced planes on the planet, his enemies would have no chance, and there would be no tension in the sequel’s plot. Maverick has already been established as one of the best pilots the Navy has ever seen, so handing him the best plane that the institution has ever operated would effectively put an end to any storyline. As such, this development wouldn’t work.
Since Top Gun 3’s plot must challenge Maverick, the sequel can’t give Tom Cruise’s character a fifth-generation fighter. This would make things easier for Maverick, and viewers don’t want to see the hero go through a mission with no struggles. It is more compelling to see Maverick, Rooster, Hangman, and the rest of the recruits rise above the odds, which means they can’t use the most advanced technology in the world. To maintain the illusion that these pilots have a hard time beating their enemies, the nameless villains of Top Gun 3 need superior technology.
Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick are currently streaming on Paramount+.
Maverick Must Be An Underdog In Top Gun 3
Giving Maverick a fifth-generation fighter would ruin the sequel’s tension
It is pretty challenging to make Maverick seem like an underdog when he is so singularly gifted at flying. However, Top Gun: Maverick achieved this by giving the villains fifth-generation fighters and Maverick a busted-up Tomcat to level the playing field. The fifth-generation fighters of Top Gun: Maverick were a real threat to the movie’s heroes, so Top Gun 3’s story has to find another way to ensure that Rooster and Maverick aren’t simply beating their enemies without any difficulty. Real-life fifth-generation fighters have advanced radar evasion, internal weapons bays, and multi-role functionality.
In the hands of a pilot like Maverick, these aircraft would be death machines. The challenges of Top Gun: Maverick’s mission were centered on maneuvering, which is significantly easier in a fifth-generation fighter, and avoiding the enemy’s radar, which is more manageable in a fighter equipped with a radar-resistant coating. Most of the sequel’s tension would have been sapped if the heroes were able to simply use the most advanced technology the Navy owns, which explains why Top Gun 3 can’t maintain Maverick’s underdog status without depriving him of advanced tech. If anything, the sequel should pit him against these machines.
The Top Gun Franchise Proved Maverick Can Fly Advanced Aircrafts
Maverick’s Darkstar scene showcased his flying skills
Maverick’s Top Gun 3 story could copy another Cruise franchise and pit the character against a malevolent AI-powered fifth-generation fighter. This would force Maverick to prove that it really is the pilot and not the plane that matters, and it would simultaneously get around the awkward question of identifying the Top Gun franchise’s unnamed villains. Both movies kept their enemy states nameless and unidentifiable, but a haywire AI would be the first truly apolitical villain in the series. This plot could also remind viewers of Maverick’s experience with advanced aircraft like fifth-generation fighters.
Maverick taking the experimental Darkstar on a joyride in Top Gun: Maverick’s opening sequence reminded viewers that he could be flying fifth-generation planes with his eyes closed. However, for a risk addict like Maverick, there is no challenge in that unless he is pushing the tech to its limits, as he does later in the test flight. Maverick has little interest in technological innovations since they don’t impact his ability as a pilot, which is why Top Gun 3 could only bring fifth-generation fighters into its story if Top Gun: Maverick’s hero is battling against them.

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