SPOILERS for Top Gun: Maverick. Consider yourself warned. The long-awaited Top Gun sequel was finally released last month and has been well worth the wait. The film has received rave reviews and has already grossed more than $612 million worldwide. Although Tom Cruise is clearly the star of Top Gun: Maverick, it wouldn’t be a Top Gun movie without Val Kilmer as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky.
It’s revealed in Top Gun: Maverick that Iceman has become Admiral Kazansky, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. He’s also the one who ultimately requests that Maverick prepare the next generation of Top Gun pilots for a dangerous mission. The reunion between Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick was a powerful one, especially as Kilmer’s cancer meant that he primarily communicated with non-verbal means.
While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Val Kilmer spoke about reuniting with Tom Cruise on the set of Top Gun: Maverick, saying that “it was like no time had passed at all… We blew a lot of takes laughing so much. It was really fun… special.” In his 2020 memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, Val Kilmer said that he contacted the producers of Top Gun: Maverick about appearing in the sequel.
Actors thrive on work — virtually any work. But when there is work that might actually revive their troubled careers, actors become beasts who will beat back the world rather than miss the chance to do such work. That was my gut reaction when I learned Tom Cruise wanted a follow-up to Top Gun. He was calling it Top Gun: Maverick. Well, Tom was Maverick but Maverick’s nemesis was Iceman. The two went together like salt and pepper. It didn’t matter that the producers didn’t contact me. As the Temptations sang in the heyday of Motown soul, ‘ain’t too proud to beg.’ I’d not only contact the producers but create heartrending scenes with Iceman.’
Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski that there was never any question whether Val Kilmer would return as Iceman. “That was a requirement from Tom, from Jerry [Bruckheimer], from myself,” Kosinski said. “You had to figure out a way to bring Iceman in. We met with Val. He had the idea of how to integrate Iceman in a really authentic way.” Once it came time to shoot the scene, it was obviously emotional for all involved. “[We] spent a lot of time on that scene, writing it, getting ready,” Kosinski explained. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. Chris McQuarrie put the final touches on the scene and really convinced me that that scene was going to work. And he was right. It’s a really beautiful scene. We shot it in Los Angeles in a really beautiful house up on a park. Very special to see not only Val and Tom, but Maverick and Iceman back on the screen together.“
The official synopsis for Top Gun: Maverick:
After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.” Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.