Movie Reviews

Tom Cruise's Best Top Gun 3 Role Is Almost Impossible After Iceman's Death


  • Top Gun: Maverick
    focuses on Maverick’s growth but misses the opportunity for him and Iceman to learn from each other.
  • Iceman’s death in
    Top Gun: Maverick
    prevents exploring their contrasting perspectives and character arcs.
  • Top Gun 3
    could still salvage Iceman and Maverick’s story by incorporating a posthumous cameo and Iceman’s teachings.

Although Top Gun 3’s story is exciting, the sequel can’t follow the franchise’s most compelling plot after Iceman died in Top Gun: Maverick. In Top Gun: Maverick’s ending, Tom Cruise’s reckless antihero Maverick finally grows up. Throughout the original Top Gun‘s plot, Maverick’s infamous need for speed led him to struggle with authority and teamwork. In Top Gun: Maverick, viewers learned that his attitude never changed later in life. Maverick was forced to learn from Goose’s son Rooster in the sequel’s climactic mission, finally slowing down as Rooster learned to embrace speed and fly higher.

This was a great ending, although Top Gun: Maverick did ignore Rooster and Maverick’s most obvious similarity in its sequel story. Sadly, though, Top Gun: Maverick also closed the door to another, even better plan for the franchise. Midway through Top Gun’s sequel, viewers learn that the original movie’s Iceman is terminally ill. Iceman dies shortly before Maverick’s big mission, but not before reuniting with his old friend in the sequel’s best scene. Top Gun 3’s story could have focused on all that Maverick learned from Iceman, but the series now needs to take a new direction.



Top Gun 3’s Character Return Fixes Top Gun: Maverick’s Tragic Twist

The news that 1 of Top Gun: Maverick’s supporting stars is happy to return for Top Gun 3 allows the series to perfectly end part of Maverick’s story.

Maverick And Iceman Can’t Learn From Each Other In Top Gun 3

Top Gun: Maverick Proved The Duo Never Changed

When the original movie ended, it seemed like the Top Gun franchise would turn Maverick into more of an Iceman and vice versa as this would be the logical conclusion of both their character arcs. After Goose died and Maverick and Iceman buried their feud, the two characters seemed like they had a lot to learn from each other. Maverick was a hot head but an undeniably great flier, while Iceman was a cold-hearted jerk but not wrong to lecture Maverick about safety. Maverick could have taught Iceman to loosen up while his friend showed him how to fly right.

Top Gun: Maverick
was Maverick’s redemption story, the plot needed to begin with him at rock bottom.

Unfortunately, Top Gun: Maverick killed that idea when the sequel’s version of Maverick remained a renegade while Iceman was still a member of the establishment. They worked well together and were great friends, but never seemed to learn from each other. While Top Gun: Maverick outdid the original movie in many respects, the sequel’s reduced role for Iceman meant that it couldn’t explore the similarities and differences between the two antiheroes. Furthermore, since Top Gun: Maverick was Maverick’s redemption story, the plot needed to begin with him at rock bottom. This precluded the possibility of him learning from Iceman.

Maverick and Iceman needed to learn from each other’s extreme perspectives but never did.

Top Gun 3’s Story Can’t Teach Maverick Iceman’s Best Lesson

Iceman Was Never Really Wrong In Top Gun

Iceman looking off-screen in Top Gun

As wild as it might sound, Iceman wasn’t entirely the villain of Top Gun. Maverick was an excessively risky flier and did need to curb his dangerous recklessness, something that he could have learned from Iceman after the movie ended. Iceman’s outlook was undoubtedly clouded by jealousy and pettiness, but Maverick’s arrogance was deleterious, and the character even admitted as much in Top Gun: Maverick. As such, it is a shame that Iceman’s death means Top Gun 3’s story can’t revisit this idea. Maverick and Iceman needed to learn from each other’s extreme perspectives but never did.

This was unfortunate since it undercut the hard-won friendship that the pair shared in Top Gun. In the original movie’s ending, Maverick seems to have a bright future ahead of him with Charlie and Iceman. By the time Top Gun: Maverick begins, Iceman has long since left Maverick behind thanks to his many promotions and Charlie doesn’t even warrant a mention. Iceman still has plenty of time for his old friend, but their lives have gone in profoundly different directions. The pair could instead have accentuated each other’s strengths if they worked together.

Top Gun 3 Could Still Salvage Iceman and Maverick’s Story

Top Gun: Maverick’s Best Scene Set Up A Fitting Future

Val Kilmer as Iceman in Top Gun: Maverick

Luckily, Iceman’s Top Gun: Maverick appearance can save his role in Top Gun 3. In Iceman’s perfect sequel cameo, he helped Maverick learn how to reach Rooster. Top Gun 3 could reveal that he left behind a few more lessons that allow Maverick to become a great tutor while simultaneously learning to handle his own infamous need for speed. After all, Iceman knew that he wanted Maverick to teach the new generation of recruits, and he also knew that Cruise’s antihero wasn’t a confident tutor.

It would make sense for
Top Gun 3
to bring back Iceman for a posthumous cameo.

The perpetual rebel Maverick couldn’t see himself as a teacher, so it would make sense for Top Gun 3 to bring back Iceman for a posthumous cameo. Iceman could have created any number of aids to help Maverick gain confidence as a tutor, and these could let Maverick look back on the pair’s friendship in the sequel. Thus, Top Gun 3 could still let Maverick learn from Iceman even though Top Gun: Maverick killed him off before this could happen on-screen.

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