How Many Top Gun Movies Are There? Top Gun Franchise Explained

Roger Gibbens

Written by Roger Gibbens

Updated On December 28, 2023

top gun movies

It might be a sin to talk about Tom Cruise movies and not to mention the OG Top Gun. The first Top Gun movie was released in 1986 and was appreciated by all. The film helped Tom Cruise establish a strong fan following.

Top Gun was Tom Cruise’s first movie that gave him a breakthrough in the action genre. Tom Cruise was just 23 when the film was released and became a role model for the young generation with his clean stunts and good looks.

The movie’s popularity was so much that years later, in 2013, it was re-released in IMAX 3D format. Top Gun’s heroic portrayal of the flight school resulted in a considerable hike in young people showing interest and registering themselves in the army. 

Movies like Top Gun are not made on a regular basis. The cult classic saw a comeback after 32 years in 2022 with a sequel titled Top Gun: Maverick. We have explained below the Top Gun movies in order. 

Top Gun (1986)

Top gun

The 1986 cult classic stars Tom Cruise as Lieutenant Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick. He plays the role of a young naval aviator who gets a chance to train at the United States Navy’s Fighter Weapons School along with Lieutenant Junior Grade Nick Goose Bradshaw.

Maverick instantly becomes the talk of the school for his skills, while others criticize him for his out-of-control attitude. Maverick gets romantically involved with Charlie, the civilian instructor at Top Gun. They meet at a bar a day before Maverick joins the institute, and they get into a romantic relationship later.

The chief instructor commander, Mike Viper, admits that he admires Maverick’’s skills but is doubtful if he is trustable as a teammate in combat. Eventually, Maverick is criticized on multiple occasions for his out-of-the-box attitude. 

Soon Maverick and Lieutenant Tom Iceman Kazansky’s rivalry begins as they both are considered the leading contenders for the Top Gun trophy. They both get a chance to compete against each other while chasing an A-4 in Hop 31. Goose and Maverick try to use their tactics against Iceman; however, unfortunately, both engines suffer a flameout. Maverick successfully ejects himself from the aircraft while Goose slams into the aircraft canopy leading to his unfortunate death. 

Maverick is affected by the incident and blames himself for Goose’s death. A board of inquiry is set up, and Maverick is cleared of any wrongdoings, but his guilt does not allow him to continue at Top Gun, and he decides to quit. He seeks advice from chief instructor Commander Viper, who also participated in the Vietnam War with Maverick’s father.

Viper assures him that Mitchell’s death was no one’s fault and that he rather encountered a heroic death. Maverick tries to collect himself and decides to complete his graduation. Iceman wins the Top Gun trophy, and the duo decides to end their rivalry to end things on good terms. 

Iceman, Maverick, and Hollywood are immediately sent to deal with a crisis situation. The trio encounters a complex situation but, with each other’s help, successfully returns back to Enterprise. The pilots realize each other’s worth and develop a new sense of maturity and mutual respect for each other. 

Finally, confident and guilt free, Maverick decides to go back to Top Gun as an instructor and reunites with Charlie. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie:

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

The much-awaited sequel was released in 2022 which can be considered a pretty long wait considering the fact this is the peak time of remakes and reboots. The movie continued the story of Maverick who is now an instructor at the Top Gun. 

The movie marked Tom Cruise’s career’s highest-grossing movie and was claimed to be better than the 1986 movie in many aspects. The reunion of Maverick and Iceman was an emotional moment for the audience after the latter lost his speaking voice due to throat cancer. Thanks to AI vocal technology, fans once again witnessed Kilmer’s legendary character on-screen.

The sequel saw Maverick and Iceman’s stronger bond. Maverick, despite many achievements, fails at establishing himself as a flag-rank official, while Iceman is now a commander of the US Pacific Fleet. Maverick has formed new rivals within the force who plans on multiple occasions to destroy his career, but Iceman always manages to protect him. 

The Navy is assigned the task of destroying an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant. This time Maverick has to train a group of Top Gun graduates for the mission. The group of trainees also includes his deceased best friend, Lieutenant Nick Goose Bradshaw’s son Bradley Rooster Bradshaw. 

Rooster’s mother made Maverick promise that Rooster would not become a pilot. Rooster, unaware of the promise, develops bitter feelings toward Maverick, who tries to keep him from becoming a pilot. 

Iceman is struggling with throat cancer and assures Maverick that the Navy and Rooster need him as he dies. After Iceman’s death, Maverick faces difficulty on the professional front but manages to regain his authority and prove his worth.

Maverick is later appointed as the team leader for a mission that also includes Rooster. During the mission, Rooster faces a crisis, and Maverick, without a second thought, sacrifices his plane to save Rooster. Everyone believes Maverick didn’t survive and is ordered to return back to the carrier. When Rooster comes to know that Maverick actually ejected himself and is alive and fighting alone, he rushes back, and they both succeed in returning back safely.

Eventually, Rooster and Maverick develop a nice bond, and Rooster helps him work on his  P-51 Mustang. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie:

Top Gun 3

Ever since the release of the 1986 hit Top Gun, there have been speculations of part 3 of the movie. Though no official announcement has been made yet, some fans expect to see Maverick’s retired life in part 3, while others expect the story to continue with Rooster’s character in focus. 

When asked, the producer of the movie said, “We’re just enjoying this one. I have no idea. It took 35 years to make Top Gun: Maverick. I’m not going to be around another 35 years.” But director Joseph Kosinski did not completely deny the rumor and said if they are able to come up with an equally compelling story, there might be a part 3.

Fans will just have to enjoy the available two movies till any official announcement is made. 

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Author: Roger Gibbens

Roger is a freelance entertainment and media writer working in this field for over 5 years now. In Roger’s posts, you will find some crucial insights about the latest Hollywood updates, TV media, news, interviews, and other updates.

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