Collaboration is key when making any artistic endeavor into a reality, but filmmaking is a craft where that sort of enterprise is especially rewarding. Top Gun: Maverick proved that point several times over, as director Joseph Kosinski’s legacy-quel just might be one of the best action movies, while also being one of the most emotional. One of the film’s most poignant emotional beats came from none other than Val Kilmer.
As he shared some behind the scenes stories with Deadline, Kosinski dug deeper into the emotional core of the recent Tom Cruise blockbuster. Part of that resonance came from the storyline between Maverick and Iceman, which saw the latter dealing with the same cancer that Kilmer has been fighting off screen. That link was the key to bringing Val Kilmer back to the franchise, as Joseph Kosinski revealed in the following story:
Seeing as Val Kilmer’s return was pretty much required for Top Gun: Maverick to happen, shaping the role so that the actor could participate was a big deal. In the end, our return to the story of Capt. Pete Mitchell clued us all into the fact that former rival Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, now an admiral, became Maverick’s greatest defender. Barely able to speak, but still very much in contact with Tom Cruise’s character, we see one last scene of the Val Kilmer’s character mentoring his old friend before he eventually dies off-screen.
The big Iceman suggestion absolutely works too, as that final chat between Maverick and Iceman is an emotional lynchpin to Top Gun: Maverick’s overall story. It certainly paid off when even the man himself saw his Top Gun: Maverick scene, and Val Kilmer approved of the emotional payoff. Reading the stories of him and Tom Cruise reminiscing about shooting Tony Scott’s 1986 original only makes the character dynamic between the two on screen that much more effective. In other words, even the toughest man probably had issues trying to not shed a tear throughout that touching scene.
It’s unfortunate that should there be a Top Gun 3, there will be no Iceman returning to dish out sage advice once again. Then again, getting Kilmer back for one last appearance was a fortunate occurrence, closing out his character’s story in a fitting manner. If Maverick is the end of the Top Gun legacy, the same could be said for that impressive feat of collaborative storytelling. But should it continue, there will be plenty of room for actors like Monica Barbaro and Lewis Pullman to do some character tweaking, like they did with Maverick’s initial story.
Top Gun: Maverick can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home, as the movie buzzes the tower we all know as awards season. In addition to being available for purchase on physical media, it’s also available currently streaming. Should you have a Paramount+ subscription, you can enjoy a double feature of both films in the Top Gun series, or focus more on one of 2022’s breakaway hits.