Top Gun: Maverick will be hitting theaters soon, taking us back to the Danger Zone and the world of Navy fighter pilots. It is also the long-awaited return of Tom Cruise as that rebellious but brilliant pilot Peter "Maverick" Mitchell. And even after over 30 years, the original Top Gun is still a fun movie to return to.
Though Top Gun is a quintessential 80s movie, a lot of the flying action still holds up today and it will be exciting to see how Cruise and company plan to top it in the sequel. With all the complex behind the scenes action that helped achieve this movie, there's probably a lot you missed. Here are some of the hidden details behind the original Top Gun.
10 Theme Song
For a lot of people, Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" plays in their heads whenever they think of Top Gun. The movie is filled with memorable songs, but that one tune has become its unofficial theme song, with the Navy even playing it in their recruitment videos.
But as iconic as the song has become, it was almost a totally different tune used in the final film. Originally, bands like Toto and REO Speedwagon were approached to perform the main song before Loggins was selected. The filmmakers liked his take so much it plays three times throughout the movie.
9 Convincing Cruise
Although Maverick has become one of Tom Cruise's most famous roles, he was initially reluctant to take the part. Pretty much all of the biggest young actors in Hollywood were considered such as Matthew Modine, Charlie Sheen, and Robert Downey Jr. However, producer Jerry Bruckheimer was determined to cast Cruise.
When Cruise was still unwilling to join the movie, Bruckheimer convinced him to go up for a ride in one of the fighter jets. The pilot didn't take it easy on Cruise who got sick in the cockpit. Oddly enough, that convinced him he wanted to do the movie.
8 The Real Viper
Tom Skerrit plays Viper, a veteran pilot who is a head instructor at the Top Gun school. Despite demanding a lot from his students, Viper is a solid mentor to Maverick and sees the immense potential in the young man as a pilot.
Viper is in fact based on a real person named Pete "Viper" Pettigrew, who was a pilot in Vietnam. He is famous for having shot down a MiG in the war. Pettigrew served as a technical consultant for the film and appears as the older man with Charlie (Kelly McGinnis) in the bar scene.
7 Kilmer And Cruise
Aside from solidifying Tom Cruise as a superstar, Top Gun also introduced a lot of new faces to Hollywood and audiences alike. One of the most notable young actors to star in the movie is Val Kilmer who plays Iceman, Maverick's main rival.
Kilmer makes a compelling antagonist and the way he and Cruise go head-to-head is very effective. Apparently, the difficult relationship between their characters extended off-screen as well. Cruise and Kilmer kept their distance from each other in order to make their rivalry more believable.
6 Taking On The Enemy
At the Top Gun school, Viper gives a lecture as to the importance of the school for the future of warfare. He explains that during the Vietnam War, US fighters took out enemies at a 12-to-1 ratio but in the Korean War that fell to 4-to-1. He says this is because modern pilots rely too much on missiles over guns.
While Top Gun hopes to develop fighters who can turn things around, they don't seem to succeed. During the climactic dogfight, the American pilots take out the enemy at a 4-to-1 ratio and none of them fire their guns once.
5 Real Missile Fire
Though not every aspect of Top Gun holds up, the aerial action sequences are extremely impressive. The way Tony Scott shot these sequences makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the action. This was achieved by the film having unprecedented access to Navy jets and personnel, including real missile launches.
The military had a lot of strict rules for filming these sequences and limited the film to only two real missile launches. The subsequent shots were achieved through models which were so convincing, the military investigated whether their rules had been broken.
4 Buzzing The Tower
One memorable scene in the film has Maverick showing off and "buzzing the tower." This means when a pilot flies by the flight tower at close proximity. Maverick, of course, does this even though he is told he is not allowed. And apparently, there are a lot of pilots who have similar goals.
Though there were many Navy pilots participating in the movie to fly the various jets, the job of buzzing the tower was a very coveted one. The pilots all drew straws to see who would get the chance and the footage shown in the movie is real.
3 Goose's Original Death
As fun as Top Gun is, it also includes one of the most heartbreaking deaths in cinematic history. During a training exercise, Maverick and his partner Goose (Anthony Edwards) experience a freak accident and lose control of their plane. When Goose tries to eject, he smashes into part of the plane and dies.
As horrific as the death was, it had to be toned down from the original ideas. The script called for Goose to die when their plane crashes onto the aircraft carrier. However, the Navy objected to it, thinking such a horrifying accident would deter potential recruits.
2 In Memory
With Goose's death in the film, we get a sense of how dangerous these Navy pilots have it in their jobs. Sadly, that was something that was discovered also while making the film.
During one of the aerial sequences, a camera plane lost control and crashed into the ocean, similar to the accident seen in the film. The stunt pilot of the plane, Art Scholl, tragically died in the crash and his body was never recovered. The film is dedicated to him as a result.
1 Recruitment Tool
Though many accept the film as a fun bit of popcorn entertainment, Top Gun has been criticized for basically being a recruitment tool for the Navy. Indeed, that is how the Navy saw the film as well.
Not only did the Navy oversee production and ensure their image was attractive, but they also set up recruitment booths outside theaters to attract interested moviegoers. It is said the tactic worked and recruitment numbers increased. The Navy even had a deal to include a recruitment video on home releases of the film, but it was ultimately decided that it would be redundant.