‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Ending, Explained – What Problem Did Rooster Have With Pete? Will There Be A Third Film?


After a hiatus of 36 years, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is back with another thrilling mission. Though a newer generation of pilots have taken over the charge, some things still remain eternal, like the patent Maverick jacket (proving that the 1986 craze was not just a passing fad), the classic red and black Kawasaki Ninja, and the tendency of the decorated pilot to contravene the rules and the orders of his superiors. In 1986, Tony Scott’s directorial venture, “Top Gun,” became a trendsetter of sorts. Its 2022 sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” would be known as a veritable feast for the eyes. Though the film relies heavily on its visual effects and stunt direction, it cannot be denied that it presents you with effective conflicts, which, aided spectacularly by the cinematography, is able to take you down memory lane and stir strong emotions inside you.

Joseph Kosinski takes full leverage of the characters created by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., and through them, explores notions of loss, guilt, comradeship, and an elevated stimulation resulting from the tingling sound of the F-18s.

Major Spoilers Ahead

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Plot Summary – Maverick Belongs In The Cockpit!

The 2022 film begins with Pete being a pilot of a flight test program named Darkstar. Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain had told the Darkstar team that if they were not able to achieve a speed of 10 Machs, then the facility would be closed down. 1 Mach is roughly equivalent to 1235 kilometers per hour, and achieving the speed of 10 machs was rather going to be a herculean task, even for a flamboyant Maverick.  Cain was one of those people who thought that in the future, unmanned, independent drones would replace fighter jets and felt that there was no need to bear with the dissenting attitude of Maverick. But Pete Mitchell was a man who knew how to bend the rules in his favor and achieve the desired result by seizing the opportunity. He reached the flight test facility earlier than Admiral Cain and decided to fly a fighter jet and put it to test before he came. It was a risky business as no one had ever achieved that speed, and somewhere down the line, even Admiral Cain knew that by setting such unrealistic targets, he would be able to expel Maverick. But the decorated pilot proves him wrong and even goes a notch above. Pete didn’t know where to stop, and often his overambition led to unnecessary hassles. While flying the fighter jet, Pete is not satisfied when he reaches 10 Machs. He knew that the machine was capable of a bit more. He pushes the limit and reaches a speed of 10.3 machs before the jet crashes. Pete was lucky enough to eject himself out and save his life. Admiral Cain calls him into his office and tells him that though he wants to fire him for such gross negligence and disobeying his orders, he has refrained from doing that, as Pete was being called once again to the Top Gun pilot training program.

See More: ‘Top Gun’ Ending, Explained: What Happens To Maverick At The End Of 1986 Film?

Why Was Maverick Called To Top Gun? Did Maverick Come Out Alive From The Mission?

The first setback that Maverick experienced after reaching the Top Gun facility, at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, was that he was not called to lead the mission but to train young pilots and guide them in the mission that they were going to undertake. He met Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson and Admiral Solomon “Warlock” Bates, who informed him of the same.

Maverick belonged in the cockpit. He never saw himself as a teacher. Flying in the air came to him as naturally as a soaring eagle, and he didn’t know how to teach the new generation of pilots something that was more of an inherent attribute than an acquired skill. Though the mission sounded simple, its execution required a great amount of precision and technical know-how. An unnamed enemy state had developed a uranium facility, and the elite pilots of Top Gun were vested with the responsibility of destroying it. Maverick knew that the mission was to be completed in less than 2 minutes 30 seconds, as after that, they would come under the radar, and their F-18s were no match for the fifth-generation fighter jets of the enemy nation. Maverick knew that he had to lead the mission if they wanted to succeed. But Admiral Simpson was vehemently against it.

Moreover, Mavericks’ long-time friend Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, who had backed him up for years and because of whom he had been saved multiple times from being expelled from his services, had succumbed to throat cancer, and he found himself in a very emotionally vulnerable state. Admiral Simpson delivers him from his duty. The next day, Admiral Simpson increased the mission time from 2 and a half minutes to more than four minutes as he felt that the time period ascertained by Maverick was too idealistic. But Maverick had some other plans in mind. Without taking permission, he takes on one of the fighter jets and does a demonstration for the whole group, to show them that the feat could be achieved in the stipulated time. Simpson knew that Maverick had grossly violated the rules, but he was still obligated to make him the team leader, as he was still the best and had massive experience under his belt.

Maverick divided the team into two parts, Dagger 1 and 2, as they needed to strike the target twice to destroy it. Lt. Natasha “Phoenix” Trace and Lt. Robert “Bob” Floyd were part of Dagger 1, with Maverick. Lt. Reuben “Payback” Fitch and Lt. Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia, were part of the Dagger 2, with Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw as the wingman.

They entered the rocky terrain, characterized by blind turns and steep rises and falls. Maverick locks on the target and destroys it. Dagger 2 then does the needful and completely destroys the uranium facility, completing their mission. While on their way back, the surface-to-air ballistic missiles spot the fighter jets, and they are showered by a series of onslaughts. They manage to wade them off, but Rooster finds himself in a compromising situation. Maverick gives him cover, but in the process, his jet gets shot.

Everybody returns to the aircraft carrier apart from Maverick and Rooster, who go back to save their mentor. Rooster spots Maverick, who was still alive and was trying to save himself from the deadly onslaught of an “Attack Helicopter.” Rooster shoots that helicopter down, but his F-18 is also bombarded with missiles, and he eventually has to eject himself out. Maverick finds Rooster and tells him that the only way of escaping the enemy land is by hijacking one of their jets and flying to their aircraft carrier. Unfortunately, the only jet they find belongs to the obsolete F-14 series. Still, they take their chances, but get spotted by the fifth-generation fighter jets that were on the lookout for any other enemies. In fierce combat, Maverick displays his skills, and Rooster knows why his father, Goose, believed so much in his abilities. They run out of ammo, and that’s when Lt. Jake “Hangman” Seresin arrives on the scene and blasts the enemy’s fighter jet into pieces. Maverick, Rooster, and Hangman safely reach their Aircraft carrier, and their colleagues are beyond elated.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Ending Explained – What Problem Did Rooster Have With Maverick? Does Their Relationship Get Mended?

Maverick spots Rooster when he is sitting at the bar with an old friend and also his love interest, Penny Benjamin. Rooster, a.k.a. Bradley Bradshaw, was the son of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. Nick was the wingman of Pete and had met his fateful end. Though Maverick was found to be not guilty of any mistake by the board investigating Goose’s death, the decorated pilot had always blamed himself for the accident. Rooster bore that bitter feeling too. He also had reason to believe that Maverick never wanted him to become a pilot because of an incident that had happened in the past. Maverick had tried his best to not let Rooster’s application proceed, when he had applied to the naval academy. But Pete did that as a favor to Carole Bradshaw, Goose’s wife. Carole didn’t want her son to be a part of the army and risk his life, as she had already lost a person whom she held so dear.

But during the mission, Maverick appoints Rooster as his wingman. He wanted the kid to know that he had immense faith in him and that the only reason for blocking his application was to fulfill the promise he gave to Carole. Rooster, too, despite being told by Admiral Simpson to retreat back, risks his life and saves Maverick when he is about to be decimated by the “attack helicopter”. Maverick had always wanted to be the father that Rooster never had. He saves Rooster’s life, and the mission mends their relationship. Rooster realizes that Maverick was, is, and always will be his guardian angel.

Will There Be A Third Installment Of The Top Gun Franchise?

After the mission, Maverick goes to find Penny, but she has left her bar, and nobody knew where she was. Maverick was working on his plane with Rooster, when Penny arrived at his workshop. A bond is rekindled, and this time Maverick promises to not break Penny’s heart. Though a lot of people were of the opinion that “Top Gun: Maverick” will give a much-needed closure to its protagonist, Tom Cruise, the makers have not ruled out the possibility of another installment. With Rooster taking up the mantle, the narrative also has a lot of scope, and his character could be developed further. The rivalry he had against Hangman had transformed into a strong bond of friendship, much like the association shared by Iceman and Maverick, and both the characters had grown to respect each other.

Apart from the characters of Rooster and Hangman, even the other pilots in the Top Gun training facility, especially Phoenix, Bob, Payback, and Fanboy, have the potential to be developed further and display meaty and captivating character arcs. As for Pete Mitchell, it probably seems to be the end of the road, but then did we expect a second installment to be made 36 years after the initial release? So let’s entertain the possibility of yet another “Top Gun” and hope that we see Maverick once again on screen.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is a 2022 Drama Action film directed by Joseph Kosinski.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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