Does Maverick die at the start of Top Gun: Maverick? It’s a semi-popular though baseless fan theory that puts a dark spin on the return of Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. And the film’s director, Joseph Kosinski, declined to shoot it down in a new interview to mark Maverick‘s digital release today.
If you haven’t seen the movie, please note that we’re NOT spoiling anything that happens on screen — it’s just a theory that exists in some fans’ heads. The theory goes like this: Maverick dies in that spectacular opening scene, in which he sneaks into a Darkstar hypersonic plane and attempts to break the Mach 10 speed barrier, in order to save the Darkstar program. The theory goes that the rest of the movie is a dream.
We’ve seen similar theories before, especially about the season finale of Breaking Bad and various stories that turned out too happily for some viewers’ tastes. Some feel the need to put a dark spin on things, and that spin is often that the hero died at some point early in the story, and imagined everything that followed: dialogue, character arcs, everything. Because that’s what people do in their last seconds of consciousness, or something.
Still, Kosinski doesn’t want to tell fans they’re wrong.
“Movies are meant to be interpreted in a variety of ways, and I love it when people read different meanings into it. So I love hearing that theory, and certainly, there’s a mythic kind of element to the story that I think lends itself to that sort of interpretation, based on who Maverick is and what he represents and the fact that he’s kind of going through this rite of passage at a different phase of his life,” Kosinski told The Hollywood Reporter.
Whether you watch Top Gun: Maverick for the first time or the 10th time now that it’s available on digital, we’re sure you’ll have plenty to ponder besides the “Did Maverick die” theory. For starters: Who is the enemy in Top Gun: Maverick? The film gives us plenty of clues, and we think we’ve figured it out. And no, it isn’t Russia.
The film arrives on digital at an interesting time, because it’s still going strong at the box office: It just soared past $1.4 billion at the global box office, making it the most successful film in the four-decade career of Tom Cruise and the ninth-highest grossing film worldwide. You can watch it at home for $20, but given the stunning visual Kosinski and crew assembled, we’d recommend checking it out at least once in a theater.
Top Gun: Maverick is now available digitally.
Main image: Tom Cruise as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.