Do We Really Need a 'Top Gun 3'?

Miles Teller plays Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw in "Top Gun: Maverick." (Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films)

Miles Teller ("Rooster") has revealed that he's been talking with Tom Cruise (producer/"Maverick") about a sequel to "Top Gun: Maverick."

By any measure, "Top Gun: Maverick" is a miracle. It's a far-too-late (36 years!) sequel to one of the most iconic movies of all time that manages to both tell a worthwhile story and deliver thrills that are at least comparable to the ones in the original movie.

No one could have predicted that it would become an international box office phenomenon. After years of delays, Paramount was likely figuring to make back its costs in theaters and maybe turn a profit down the line in home video. 

Instead, the sequel has grossed over $1 billion worldwide. In its fifth weekend of release, it returned to the #1 spot at the international box office and still ranks #3 in the U.S., kept out of the top spot by the release of "Thor: Love & Thunder" and the animated "Minions: The Rise of Gru." Both "Jurassic World: Dominion" and "Elvis" were released after "Maverick," and they're dropping off while the "Top Gun" sequel continues to draw crowds.

While "Top Gun: Maverick" is a sequel, the overwhelming majority of the active moviegoing audience wasn't even born when the first one was released in 1986. The billion-dollar mark has been reserved mostly for Marvel, Batman, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar and Minions movies. It's no wonder that people are talking about "Top Gun 3" with that much cash sloshing around.

Last week, Teller was hanging out at the golf course for the American Century Championship and dropped a bombshell on "Entertainment Tonight." Teller revealed, "I've been having some conversations with him [Tom Cruise] about it. We'll see."

What's the story left to tell? At the end of "Top Gun: Maverick," Capt. Pete Mitchell seemed ready to ease into a happy retirement alongside his one true love, Penny Benjamin. His work with the Navy seems complete, and he's already proved himself as the oldest combat pilot in history.

Sure, filmmakers can tell more stories about Rooster, Hangman, Phoenix and the rest of the young aviators, but do audiences really want a "Top Gun" movie that doesn't focus on Cruise. More importantly, would the Navy still offer the kind of unprecedented cooperation it offered to Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Joseph Kosinski if they wanted to make another movie.

"Top Gun: Maverick" managed to do the impossible and actually burnish the original movie's legacy. Cruise vowed he'd never make a "Top Gun" sequel unless he found a story worth telling. After pulling off a feat with an incalculable degree of difficulty, here's hoping Cruise takes a bow and walks away while he's on top of the world.

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