Top Gun: Maverick Was a Hit Because It Prefers Practical Stunts Over Lazy CGI

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Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise was released on 27 May 2022 and this sequel is already breaking all the records. The sequel to 1986’s Top Gun comes at a moment when Cruise has transformed his Hollywood image, more than 30 years after he first played Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the film. The A-list movie actor has spent the last two decades reinventing himself into a real daredevil eager to go to extremes to amuse viewers with real stunts.

Top Gun: Maverick
Poster of Tom Cruise led Top Gun: Maverick

Director Tony Scott used expert pilots to film most of the action in the original Top Gun, which included spectacular flying shots and dogfights in the sky. Top Gun: Maverick could have easily done the same, relying mainly on CGI advances in the previous 36 years to create its aerial sequences. Top Gun 2 is loaded with spectacular flight scenes that will leave fans wondering how some of it was done, as the film follows Maverick as he trains a bunch of young pilots led by Goose’s son Rooster (Miles Teller) and his adversary Hangman (Glen Powell).

Stunts that were carried out for real

Although Maverick is frequently featured flying in a Boeing F/A 18F Super Hornet jet and the fictional Hypersonic “Darkstar” jet, Cruise was not in charge of either. Tom Cruise sat in the backseat of these actual planes with another pilot, encountering tremendous g-force and flying at high speeds, but he didn’t control them for the most part.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

He did, however, fly in many aircraft for Top Gun 2, and he was also given the opportunity to operate one for real. The scene comes at the end of Top Gun: Maverick when Pete is reunited with Penny (Jennifer Connelly). He takes her for a flight in his rebuilt P-51 propeller plane, and this is the only time Tom Cruise really piloted the plane. Tom Cruise owns the P-51 Mustang featured in Top Gun: Maverick in real life, enabling him to fly it for the film’s ending. The remaining Top Gun: Maverick’s cast members also flew in the jets like Cruise, although none of them actually flew the jets.  For their aerial sequences, all of the cast members’ jets were piloted by professional Navy pilots.

Was CGI used in Top Gun: Maverick?

Enemy Nation - Top Gun Maverick
Enemy Nation – Top Gun Maverick

Even though the movie focuses on being real as much as possible, there are sequences that took aid from CGI. The dogfights appear to be largely facilitated by CGI since the missiles launching and bullets shooting at the planes are almost certainly fake. Actors, professional pilots, and crew would be at grave risk if any of this were to be done in real life. With that in mind, it appears that the bombing of Top Gun: Maverick’s villains’ underground uranium facility was facilitated by CGI. There are probably other less prominent examples of visual effects in the movie, but they were all done to support the actual aerial sequences that took place throughout the rest of the movie.

Top Gun: Maverick, directed by Joseph Kosinski is now playing in theatres starring Tom Cruise in the lead role.


Written by Varshit Sharma

Articles Published: 180

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