Having just surpassed $900 million at the global box office, Top Gun: Maverick is well on its way to being the highest grossing movie of the year as it closes in on the Marvel giant of Doctor Strange. There are many genres that invoke a certain viewer response, epic Marvel blockbusters invite fans to get to the cinema to see it on the big screen, old favorites like Avatar helped to pioneer the 3D movie space, even big casino and heist movies see a boost in players at sites not on Gamstop following their release too with players flocking to experience a new game. So, what is it about Top Gun: Maverick that has helped it build the hype, and what’s keeping it on top of the box office?

A sequel done right

Despite being nearly four decades since the original release, this sequel did what many that have come before didn’t – the main character is still the main character. Having been the big picture drawback in the ’80s, this isn’t a show that sees Cruise passing the torch to one of the young guns and having them take the lead, instead the movie is shown from Maverick’s perspective and casts Cruise as the leading character with the leading role too and it creates an important distinction.

Whilst the movie does have a star-studded cast with Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Jennifer Connelly, and Val Kilmer also appearing, it doesn’t take away from the incredibly leading performance put on by Cruise and avoiding the common pitfalls that other sequels tend to fall into.

A big stand-alone story

The crux of the Maverick story still remains the same – the pilots are the best of the best, being recent graduates of the Top Gun school, there’s an unnamed enemy that needs to be fought, some disagreements amongst the team, and some later team bonding too – throw some Kenny Loggins into the mix and it’s a Top Gun movie.

Despite this, it’s still a very standalone story – it doesn’t lead itself on to a sequel, there’s no extended universe to explore, and there won’t be a streaming series that follows the release. As such the movie is designed to be a huge blockbuster hit that invites viewers to the theatre to take it all in, and it does that job extremely well.

Nostalgia still hits different

When Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher came on-screen during the latest batch of Star Wars movies, it evoked that nostalgic response from old fans that have been long fans of the series and new fans who understood what was meant. The same is true for Top Gun: Maverick too – although Cruise is still a huge leading actor with big franchises under his belt, the jacket and glasses evoked that same nostalgic response for many viewers.

The same is true when Val Kilmer came on screen as Iceman, and the relationship shared between the two actors four decades after the original was released – this is something unique to movies that have a long gap between releases, however, which is why it isn’t seen too commonly in cinema. Maverick managed to handle this nostalgic hit very well, the opening of the aircraft carrier operations with Danger Zone playing in the background, a change from the volleyball scene to something slightly different but still the same vibe, and of course, Cruise heading down the runway on his motorcycle doing an arm pump – it all leads back to an experience for older audiences back during the original release and something that newer audiences can enjoy too.

Whilst it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, it’s unlikely that there will be another Top Gun movie to hit the screens, particularly not with the cast of old and Cruise in the leading role – but for moviegoers and studios, it does show that big flashy CGI and over the top stories are always necessarily needed – stripping things back with a simple approach that just works is a fantastic way to create a box office hit, and Maverick is all the proof needed that these type of movies work extremely well even with what is shown in today’s cinema too.