Key Top Gun: Maverick Scene Nearly Caused International Incident


Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski explains the dangerous and near-impossible aerial stunt Tom Cruise performed in the long-awaited sequel.
As a major action thriller, Top Gun: Maverick features numerous stunts that seem to defy reality. Given how many high-flying tricks appear in the movie, it can be easy to assume much of the movie is CGI, but Top Gun Maverick’s tricks are largely real.

As a licensed pilot, Tom Cruise had to ride in real planes, though he tended to remain in the back seat, since he is not a naval pilot. Of course, with its partnership with the American Navy, Maverick’s stars managed to film in real Navy bases. As the director, Joseph Kosinski, told Collider, that nearly led to an international incident. Check out his explanation below:

I went to China Lake Naval Air Station, which is a Navy base out in the desert. I’m sure you drive near it when you drive up to Mammoth. It’s off to the right, and it encompasses a huge amount of desert out there. But I was doing a tour of the base looking for a hangar for the Darkstar sequence. And they said, “You can take pictures as long as you don’t point your camera over there.” I look over there, and there’s this really interesting looking hangar with a tower and barbed wire around it and a blue door. And I’m like, “What is that?” And they’re like, “Oh, don’t even think about it. You’re never going to be able to shoot over there. Don’t take a picture of it. Don’t even look at it.” I’m like, “Well can we drive by it if I don’t take a picture?” And they’re like, “Okay, fine. We can drive by, but you can’t take a picture.”

So we go, and we drive by it, and I look at it, and it’s just perfect. I mean, it looks like a top secret hangar inside a top secret base. And I’m like, “We have this sequence where we’ve got this secret airplane that they pull out at night, and it just looks like that’s the perfect spot for it.” And they said, “Well it’s no surprise that you’re interested in that particular building.” So, I’m like, “Oh man, wow. It’d be great to shoot there. That’s too bad.” So, a couple days later, I get a call. And they’re like, “Okay, if you tell us when you want to shoot there, we’ll take what’s in there, and we’ll move it out a few days before so you’ll have a building.” And we ended up getting to shoot at the top secret hangar, and we really built Darkstar, and we put it in a hangar.


And when we pulled it out for the shoot, I was told that certain satellites owned by other countries actually moved in space to take pictures of it. I guess they were able to track that, which I thought was just amazing. If they were able to zoom in very close, they’d see Tom Cruise is in the cockpit, which is pretty cool.

Why Top Gun: Maverick’s Stunts Were So Amazing

A major reason for the success of the Top Gun franchise is the fact that its stunts are so incredible. While the Top Gun: Maverick stunt training took a toll on its cast, it meant that the cast has given everything to the franchise. With a complete understanding of the type of training that real aviators undergo, the actors can respond realistically. The fact that it also regularly features practical effects, rather than relying solely on CGI, helps to promote realism that makes the stunts feel as if the actors are really putting their lives on the line with every turn.

The fact that Top Gun: Maverick nearly caused an international incident just to show off those realistic tricks should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the franchise. Just as all six jet fighters in Top Gun: Maverick were real naval planes, Top Gun has always shown off some of the best and most efficient planes that the Navy has to offer. The film even shows off a real aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, just to help the production look more realistic.

What’s Next For The Top Gun Franchise

The Top Gun franchise likely won’t end with Top Gun: Maverick. After taking home $1.488 billion at the box office, the director of Top Gun: Maverick is already hinting at a Top Gun 3. While Maverick has been the center of the movies since their inception, Maverick has already set up Rooster and Hangman as potential replacements for the star. At 60 years old, Tom Cruise may not be interested in returning to the franchise if Top Gun 3 takes as long to produce as Top Gun: Maverick did.