SPOILER ALERT: Photos Surface of “Maverick” in High Altitude Pressure Suit (After Ejection?) on Set Of Top Gun Sequel

Does “Maverick” Eject From An SR-72 in “Top Gun: Maverick”?

Interesting photos hit Hollywood social media via TheHollywoodPipeline.com this morning showing actor Tom Cruise on the set of “Top Gun: Maverick”. The photos, that appear to be “leaked” spy shots from a smartphone but could also be intentional studio publicity plants intended for social media to hype the upcoming 2020 release of the “Top Gun” sequel, may provide clues about a possible plot for the movie.

Before you keep reading, this article may contain plot spoilers for “Top Gun: Maverick” and is entirely speculative. We’ve received no insider information from script writers and the ideas expressed here are strictly those of this writer based on daily research of the media surrounding the ongoing production of the film. This is Hollywood entertainment reporting, not military aviation journalism. We’re taking some creative license with speculation we wouldn’t do with factual military aviation reporting. This is all about entertainment.

That said, continue under your own responsibility and don’t complain too much.

The set of photos that originally appeared on TheHollywoodPipeline.com show Cruise in his character as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell wearing an all-black flight suit. The interesting thing is that the flight suit appears to be a high-altitude pressure suit similar to the actual ones worn by high altitude reconnaissance pilots in aircraft like the U-2 and SR-71. Notice the wide, round neck ring for a pressure suit helmet and the two fittings to the suit for life support and pressurization.

It looks like Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell may be an experimental high altitude, hypersonic pilot based on guesses made from photos that surfaced today on the entertainment Instagram account thehollywoodpipline.com. (Photo: @thehollywoodpipeline)

It gets more interesting. Cruise appears to have make-up on and weathering to his high-altitude pressure suit that recall several scenes from previous aviation movies like “The Right Stuff” where a pilot has ejected from an aircraft. Cruise looks slightly “singed” in his costume and make-up, as if he survived ejection from an aircraft mishap in the plot of the story.

Let’s think about this: In the last “Top Gun”, U.S. Navy fighter pilot Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell rises to prominence as a renegade fighter pilot but suffers personal loss in a training accident when his Radar Intercept Officer in an F-14 Tomcat, Lt. JG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw dies in a training accident. Maverick goes on to find redemption in combat and the arms of lilting civilian Top Gun instructor and astrophysicist Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood. Further plot twists provide secret revelations about how Maverick’s father and how he died a hero in combat due to classified circumstances.

Fast Forward to the production of the upcoming sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick”. Several observers of photos of the F/A-18F Super Hornet painted with Maverick’s callsign and MiG kills (although they look oddly like F/A-18 “kills”) noticed that Maverick has only progressed to a Navy Captain based on what is written on the aircraft. Was Maverick busted down for some additional transgression? Has he been held back in promotion because of involvement in some classified program? It has been 32 years since Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell went to Top Gun fighter weapons school and scored his first MiG kill. You’d think a career that long that started with so much promise combined with his Navy family heritage may have gotten him to flag rank by now. But according to what is stenciled on his canopy coaming, Maverick languishes along as an officer at a lower pay grade. Why?

Today actor Tom Cruise as “Maverick” was photographed on set wearing a singed high altitude pressure suit with smoke smeared on his face as though he just survived an ejection. This scene is being filmed at the leading edge of the movie’s production, and at the start of a break from filming on U.S. Navy ships that has been speculated as waiting for Navy F-35C capability to come online and be included in the film’s plot and production along with some use of remotely piloted aircraft or drones.

Is this patch on Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s high-altitude flight suit from a fictional top-secret new hypersonic aircraft test program like the SR-72? Photos surfaced today on the entertainment Instagram account thehollywoodpipline.com. (Photo: Via Instagram.)

Will we see (now) Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as a secret test pilot for a highly classified yet-to-be released stealthy experimental hypersonic aircraft?

Think about the context of the black space suit photos here. It’s just a guess, but the elements of the plot could fit together- and again this is a total guess: The story may open with Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell now part of the secret development of the SR-72 hypersonic reconnaissance spy plane. Even more sensationally, his back-seater is a civilian test pilot and astrophysicist named Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, Maverick’s old flame from the 1986 “Top Gun”. There is another accident for Maverick in the secret test aircraft over a classified test range. Maverick manages to eject at ultra-high altitude and speed and barely survives, but his civilian test systems operator on board the aircraft does not survive the mishap. Remember; in a scene like this we would not have to see Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood’s face, it would be concealed beneath a high-altitude flight suit helmet. Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is thrown back into despair over the loss of “Charlie” in the accident and the plot accelerates from there. This plot guess meshes with additional scenes where Tom Cruise is shown on a new motorcycle with actress Jennifer Connelly who will play a single mother who runs a bar near the base. It could make sense that Maverick seeks consolation with Jennifer Connelly’s character in the film. This also may completely wrong- it’s all just speculation based on today’s “leaked” photos.

A close look at the pressure suit and astronaut-style helmet fittings on Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell from photos that surfaced today on the entertainment Instagram account thehollywoodpipline.com. (Photo: Via Instagram.)

Following the template for “hooking” audiences in movie plots that has been successful in every James Bond movie, “Top Gun: Maverick” may open with an action sequence where “Maverick” is in the new secret hypersonic test plane and experiences the accident we have theorized about (one more time, this is just a theory). That leads to what we have seen in the photos leaked (or intentionally “leaked”) today.

One essential part of Hollywood filmmaking solidly in place since the 1930 production of the Howard Hughes film, “Hell’s Angels”, which could be considered the original “Top Gun”, is the generation of hype and speculation. Different from factual reporting on military aviation news, entertainment hype is all about speculation and sensation. In the words of writer and film critic Karina Longworth who recently wrote a book about the real-life Hollywood starlet mistresses of Howard Hughes titled, Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood, Howard Hughes was a master at hype before a film release. “[Hughes] told everyone he was the greatest through publicity, and they believed it,” Longworth told the Hollywood Reporter’s columnist Katie Kilkenny in a November 9, 2018 interview.

Just like the leaks and rumors propagated through Hollywood media in 1930 for “Hell’s Angels”, speculating about the plot for “Top Gun: Maverick” with its delayed release is both entertaining and helps the keep the anticipated sequel top-of-mind for aviation film enthusiasts. In Hollywood, it’s all about the hype. In a year and a half, we’ll know if any of our wild guesses were right.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.