When the second “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer dropped earlier this week, it’s safe to say that most aviation nerds, like me, were dumbfounded by just how cool this three-decades-late sequel looks. But after the initial excitement wore off, some pressing concerns started to bubble to the surface. After months of hearing about how real this film would be, complete with cramming actors into cockpits and filming them as they experienced the real G-forces of their maneuvers, the new trailer seems, well, kind of fake.
Realism isn’t a requirement for an entertaining movie, but after being promised a view into the world of fighter operations like nothing we’d ever seen before, the shot of Maverick making his F/A-18 Super Hornet practically stop in mid-air and point his noise straight up at speed made me nervous. Then, the shot of him flying his Super Hornet directly between two other training fighters, blowing them into rolls as he passed, made me really worried. These shots aren’t just unrealistic because physics don’t work that way, they’re also unrealistic because they represent grievous violations of standard safety regulations even if they were possible. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Uncle Sam is pretty risk-averse when it comes to multi-million dollar aircraft and human lives, so any time you see a fighter doing something crazy in a movie chances are good that the plane is actually CGI.
It seems like the folks over at Paramount probably knew nerds like me would start nit-picking violations of the “training bubble,” safety regulations and the laws of physics, and they decided to nip those concerns right in the bud by releasing another “Top Gun: Maverick” video just 48-hours later, all about how real this movie is going to be. Among the clips shown in this video is one of the extremely low pass of a Super Hornet that I honestly assumed had been made by adding a CGI ground into real footage of the aircraft.
Nope. They just really did that.
Now don’t get me wrong: this new video shows that the new Top Gun will include plenty of realism — but it’s still very much a movie. As I’ve mentioned before, the universe Top Gun occupies basically can’t be the same one that we do, otherwise Maverick would either be collecting PTSD related disability from the VA or likely serving in a command billet for a carrier strike group by now, thanks to his operational history and experience across multiple platforms.
Instead, we’re left to believe this old dude is still rocking and rolling in fighter jets ten-plus years after most aviators would have retired — but I’m willing to buy that because movies are fun. The same way I’ll bite my tongue when I see aircraft doing impossible things; because what I’m really after is a good time and it looks to me like “Top Gun: Maverick” has its weapons lock on that target.
Watch the full video below: