The Top Gun: Maverick trailer shows Tom Cruise’s title character at a funeral, but who’s in the coffin? Helmed by Joseph Kosinski, the film is a direct sequel to the original 1986 film directed by the late Tony Scott. Based on Top Gun: Maverick’s official trailer, it looks like Val Kilmer’s Vice Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky is the dearly departed.
In Top Gun, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) and Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are invited to join the Naval Fighter Weapons School, otherwise known as Top Gun. They’re instructed by Mike "Viper" Metcalf (Tom Skerritt) and compete against Iceman. Meanwhile, Maverick forms a relationship with astrophysicist/Top Gun instructor Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood (Kelly McGillis). In Top Gun’s final act, Goose is killed during an ejection attempt, prompting Maverick to grapple with survivor’s guilt. He then learns crucial information about the past, and progresses forward with his career during a critical mission. Top Gun’s finale depicts the strengthened bond between Maverick and Iceman, along with Maverick’s renewed relationship with Charlie. Top Gun: Maverick takes place 34 years later.
It’s possible that Kilmer only filmed a handful of scenes for Top Gun: Maverick and they simply didn't appear in the trailer, but given the prominence of a funeral, another option is more likely. Could Iceman's death establish the central conflict for Maverick as he instructs Goose's son? It would work well as an inciting incident. After all, Harris’ commanding officer tells Maverick that “The end is inevitable… your kind is heading towards extinction." Top Gun: Maverick will most likely chronicle Captain Mitchell’s angst and grief while deciding whether to pursue his true passion or a future with Connelly’s character.
During the funeral sequence in Top Gun: Maverick’s trailer, the departed receives a 21-gun salute. If Harris represents an authoritative figure that pushes Maverick to weight the odds, and Hamm’s new character will presumably not be killed off early on, then that leaves Iceman as the most logical major character to receive an honorable send-off. While fans of the original Top Gun may indeed want to see more Iceman and Maverick sequences, the sequel is clearly Cruise’s film, evidenced by the title itself. So, it makes sense that Maverick would be the last man standing of the original crew. Top Gun: Maverick will seemingly be about the new generation, and how a legendary pilot grapples with his legacy. And that means change is inevitable.