Top Gun Maverick Week: Spoiler Free First Impression and Collabs
As the credits began to roll, I turned to look at Aaron (Ribbon-Blue) and asked him, “Have you ever seen Wayne’s World 2”? He answered in the affirmative, probably wondering what I was on about. I replied earnestly: “Wayne’s World 2 is a rare sequel for a successful and iconic film that manages to differentiate itself enough to be strong all on its own.”
Top Gun: Maverick (TGM) is another one of those rare sequels.
I’m sure many people can word this more simply than I: It’s an 80’s movie made in the 21st century, and it owns every minute of it. But it’s the “feel” that’s hard to explain. It’s nostalgic and novel all at once. Perhaps not as quotable… yet. Perhaps a soundtrack that’s not as iconic… yet. Perhaps not as culturally influential… yet. But here’s what I will say: Cruise’s decision to delay the movie for this long to get it on the big screen was absolutely the right call. I think this movie could be pointed at as a swan song for the cinema—it’s what makes movies great.
And what does it distill to that makes it so great? Some of the best aerial combat sequences we’ve seen since 2005’s Les Chevaliers du Ciel. Wherever they possibly could, they used a real aircraft. The F/A-18E/F is on full display here as the knife-fighter it is reputable for. But even more impressive is the respect it gives to its audience and its subject without slowing down the movie’s pace. There are sequences highlighted that will put a wide grin on a DCS flyer’s face but masterfully presents them so that someone less familiar with these technicalities infers what is happening rapidly.
I’d have to say that none of this was what I expected. I went it with light reservations, but expecting it to walk away from a modern remake of an old classic, never as recognized as the original.
But you know… It may very well be. We’ll see where the future takes us.
But in the present—the hype is real, and it carries over to the unprecedented media tie-ins that have been released to celebrate the occasion.
I’m serious. There are NFT’s. But that’s not what I mean. I mean the game tie-ins. The release of Top Gun: Maverick comes along side multiple official collaborations and well-timed Top Gun related announcements with high profile flight games and simulators.
War Thunder released a teaser for their "Danger Zone" update which is finally bringing the long-sought after F-14 Tomcat to the game. With its arrival questions about how its massive radar range, AIM-54 Phoenix missiles and how it all fits with War Thunder's World War II sized maps. With the Tomcat available in the dev server, various content creators has been giving their first impressions and opinions on how the aircraft may fair in the near future.
Eagle Dynamics presented an excellent "Turn and Burn | Be A Maverick" video for Digital Combat Simulator World. The video acting as an announcement for a free Open Beta update that added TGM themed liveries for the F/A-18C Hornet and F-14A/B Tomcat. Furthermore, for a very limited time of just three days, two bundles that provide a discount for the Hornet, Tomcat and/or Super Carrier are available. A further nod to TGM's release in theaters. Shout out to Eagle Dynamics for using "Mighty Wings" by Cheap Trick rather than the frequently idolized "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins.
The official collaboration between Top Gun and Ace Combat launched with much fanfare. While Ace Combat is no stranger to collaborations with many other intellectual properties, the TGM collab is a very high profile event in its 26 year history. It includes remixed versions of "Danger Zone" and "Top Gun Anthem" by composer Keiki Kobayashi, special wallpapers, movie related nicknames and emblems and new aircraft.
The F-14A Tomcat, the F/A-18E Super Hornet, fictional Dark Star hypersonic aircraft and the "5th Generation Fighter" (read: Su-57 variant) joined the roster of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Of note are the specifically labelled "TGM" variants of the Tomcat and Super Hornet having highly increased maneuverability, allowing them to perform absolutely crazy post-stall maneuvers as an homage to certain maneuvers presented in the movies. Funnily enough, the Dark Star is so fast it can traverse multiple singleplayer and multiplayer maps within a minute, making it somewhat hard to reach and maintain its hypersonic speeds.
The last official collaboration with Microsoft Flight Simulator added the Top Gun: Maverick expansion pack. Though already available in the simulator for a long time now, the F/A-18E Super Hornet received Maverick's CAG bird style livery and multiple new challenges. As a non-combat simulator, some questioned what it could offer. The bulk of what is offered in this collab involves training missions to learn the Super Hornet and low altitude, high speed challenges inspired by events from the movie. Our buddies over at Stormbirds have put up a great video as an example.
Furthermore, the Dark Star in this simulator does benefit from having plenty of altitude and distance to cover. This being highlighted by the stratospheric flight mission which has the player flying from NAWS China Lake to Cape Canaveral, Florida at hypersonic speeds. The entire trip being just a little over half-an-hour. If only all flights were that fast.
If nothing else, Top Gun: Maverick heavily benefited from a type of online collaboration the first movie could never have dreamed of having. Perhaps that too will add to its potential status as a classic in the making.
About the Author
T.J. "Millie" Archer
T.J. "Millie" Archer is Life-long realist and aviation enthusiast. Once the co-founding Administrator of the Electrosphere.info English Ace Combat Database. In the present day he is freelance, roving the internet in search of the latest aviation news and entertainment.