Top Gun: Maverick’s trailer offered a glimpse of Maverick attending a funeral, but who is the unfortunate character being laid to rest in the clip?
The trailer for Top Gun: Maverick offered viewers a glimpse of a grief-stricken Maverick (Tom Cruise) attending a funeral, but who is the unfortunate character being laid to rest in the clip? After a tortured 34 year production, the long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick is finally arriving in theatres in early 2021. Despite the movie’s many production delays, this belated Tom Cruise vehicle already has fans excited with its thrilling trailer and the promise of a return from not only Maverick but also his wingman, Val Kilmer’s Iceman.
The brief glimpse of Top Gun: Maverick’s action has already made it clear that the movie will be less fun than the campier original Top Gun, as this much-dissected promo prominently features a funeral. But despite this harbinger of increased seriousness fans still have no clue who is in the coffin, so naturally, the internet has been ablaze in recent weeks with all manner of fan theories about who the recipient of Top Gun: Maverick’s early exit is most likely to be.
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Many fans are sure they know who could is in the coffin seen in Top Gun: Maverick’s trailer, but a glance at the conflicting theories illustrates that there is actually plenty of reason to believe that each of these guesses could be equally plausible when investigated further. The best way to work out the answer to this mystery (short of waiting for Top Gun: Maverick‘s release date, that is) is by bringing together a rundown of the most popular theories and discussing not only how each of these character deaths would work, but also what they would mean for the movie’s central character, Tom Cruise’s eponymous Maverick.
It is widely accepted amongst the fandom that the most obvious suggestion for who Top Gun: Maverick’s coffin belongs to is none other than Iceman, the title character’s former rival and now-longtime wingman. Unforgettably immortalized in the original cult classic Top Gun by Val Kilmer (who only took the now-iconic role due to contractual obligations), Iceman spent most of the original movie as Maverick’s rival. More level-headed but no less competitive and intense than Maverick, Iceman was understandably frustrated by the impressive reputation Cruise’s character enjoyed thanks to his often dangerous stunts. Although Kilmer’s character spent the movie decrying Maverick’s flying as foolish (despite Iceman being as responsible for Goose’s death as Maverick), he changed his tune at the close of Top Gun when Maverick saved his life through one of the same maneuvers that Iceman had recently called reckless and indefensible.
Iceman seems to be the most likely early casualty of Top Gun: Maverick as his actor Val Kilmer admitted in his memoir that he begged for the role to be reprised, meaning the character didn’t appear in early drafts of the sequel before the actor’s intervention. Not only that, but one canny viewer noted that the coffin is adorned with a winged metal pin, meaning its inhabitant was involved with the Naval School Topgun during their life. With so much evidence piling up, the odds of survival aren’t looking good for Iceman. But that doesn’t mean he’s certain to be the character contained in Top Gun: Maverick’s coffin.
One of Maverick’s Students
Top Gun: Maverick will see six students training under both Maverick and Iceman, among them Miles Teller’s Rooster, Glen Powell’s Hangman, Jay Ellis’ Payback, Monica Barbaro’s Phoenix, Lewis Pullman’s Bob, and Danny Ramirez’ Fanboy. Of this diverse roster, it seems likely that one of the new arrivals may suffer a fate similar to Top Gun’s tragic Goose, who dies during a training exercise in the original movie. Rooster is likely to be safe, as he’s Goose’s son and the relatively high profile of newcomer Miles Teller means he’ll likely get a lot of screen time to clash with Cruise’s character over the death of his father. But the rest of these newcomers are played by comparatively unknown actors and with all of these characters training in Topgun, it seems highly likely that the death of any of Maverick’s students could explain the military pin on the trailer’s coffin.
This could also explain how the writers reintegrated Iceman into the plot, as Kilmer’s insistence that the character return could have come at the expense of a recruit’s survival and screen time. There’s an argument to be made against this idea, as a young student’s death could be too close to the original Top Gun’s pivotal Goose death to work for a sequel. On the other hand, Maverick doesn’t seem to have learned a lot of sense from Goose’s unfortunate end, and as such a similar occurrence decades later in his life could end up being exactly the catalyst to cause some serious soul searching by Cruise’s titular character, leaning into Maverick’s inherent tragedy, and maybe even be leading him to finally abandon his all-consuming quest to be the fastest, riskiest, and highest-flying test pilot alive.
This one is a real wild card, given how few of the original Top Gun’s cast members are returning for this long-awaited sequel. But it’s easy to forget that the original movie’s love interest Charlie worked for the military too, albeit in a more civilian capacity as an astrophysicist who tinkered with the planes that Iceman and Maverick were always attempting to burn out. Viewers already know that Charlie and Maverick’s relationship didn’t survive the decades between movies, so might it be someone else from Maverick’s past who is inhabiting the trailer’s coffin and causing the hero some anguished soul searching? It’s certainly less obvious than Iceman as, as noted by numerous film scholars, Top Gun actually spends more time focusing on the relationship between Maverick and Iceman than his time with love interest Charlie. As such, bringing back Charlie by killing off the character would have less of an emotional impact than killing off Iceman would, and would also be less brutally unexpected than killing off one of the young recruits.
But there’s nonetheless an argument to be made for Charlie being the inhabitant of the trailer’s coffin. Since viewers know that Miles Teller’s Rooster hates Maverick and will be acting as a walking, talking reminder of his past mistakes and their human cost, the untimely death of Charlie could be a more unexpected reminder of his old life which leads him to reconsider his path. This seems particularly possible when viewers remember that Iceman and Maverick have been working together for the entirety of the decades between movies, meaning Top Gun: Maverick will need to shake up Maverick’s routine to make him reexamine his life. The tragic return of an old face he’s long forgotten like Charlie could be a more effective way to set up this introspection than the death of a longtime colleague like Iceman, especially given that who viewers already know Charlie has since been replaced in Maverick’s affections by Jennifer Connelly’s new love interest in Top Gun: Maverick.
More: Why Top Gun 2 Could Earn Tom Cruise An Oscar
Key Release Dates
- Top Gun: Maverick/Top Gun 2 (2021)Release date: Jul 02, 2021
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