Even the most popular movies don't always lend themselves well to sequels. Some work best as standalone entries with no follow-up to step on the original's iconic place in the hearts and minds of millions of fans across the world. But, once enough time has passed, a return to those characters can be a fascinating thing to watch.
While it might seem like a risky approach, there have been a few movies that have pulled it off masterfully. Last year we had Blade Runner 2049, which brought back Harrison Ford's character from the original movie; in 2015 we saw Sylvester Stallone pass on the torch to Michael B. Jordan in Creed - and now it looks like we're getting a similar set-up in the sequel to Top Gun.
By time the new film, Top Gun: Maverick, is released, it will be 34 years since the release of the original movie, one of the key movies to Tom Cruise's success. Cruise will be reprising the role of Lt. Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell, who is now an instructor at the Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California.
Alongside Cruise, Val Kilmer will also be returning as Lt. Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky, and both will be joined by actors Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, and Ed Harris.
David Ellison, film producer and CEO of Skydance Media, previously said that this sequel will focus on modern warfare, given how much has changed since 1986. Collider reports that he said:
"It is very much a world we live in today where it’s drone technology, and fifth-generation fighters are really what the United States Navy is calling the last man-made fighter that we’re actually going to produce, so it’s really [about] exploring the ‘end of an era’ of dogfighting and fighter pilots and what that culture is today.
"The plot will take place in the present day to account for the decades between the sequel and 1986."
Now, photos from the set have revealed what Cruise looks like back in action - and he looks like he the aviators suit him just as well. The photos show the (somehow 56-year-old) actor riding a Kawasaki Ninja H2 Carbon superbike, which - according to MEAWW - is one of only 120 ever produced.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer also spoke about the original movie, and the pressure that's on them to make this sequel work. Speaking to Metro last year, he said:
"I’ll tell ya, any movie you make has pressure there, and when you have an iconic movie like Top Gun you know the bar is really high.
"But we try to raise the bar in everything we do so it’s all about getting enormously talented people to work on it, and Tom is such a gifted not only actor, but also he produced this thing and he’s got a real sense of what the audience wants and what he likes."
Top Gun: Maverick will land in summer 2020, so we've still got a little while to wait yet - but I'm sure Cruise still will look far younger than his birth certificate claims.