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Is 'Top Gun: Maverick' set in purgatory? Director responds to fan theory as film hits streaming

The film is now available to rent or purchase on Digital and VOD.

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Since its release back in late May, Top Gun: Maverick has soared to dizzying heights with critical acclaim, a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, over $1 billion at the global box office (making it the twelfth-highest grossing movie in Hollywood history), and yes — even wild fan theories.

Most popular among them is the hypothesis that Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (once again played by Tom Cruise almost 40 years after the original) actually dies at the start of the movie during the character's boundary-pushing test flight in an experimental aircraft, which, if true, would make the rest of the story a fleeting fever dream inside the pilot's head as he slips away into unfeeling oblivion. Recently sitting in the gunner's seat for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director Joseph Kosinski (who previously worked with Cruise in 2013's Oblivion) has chimed in on that particular bit of fan speculation.

"Movies are meant to be interpreted in a variety of ways, and I love it when people read different meanings into it," he said. "So I love hearing that theory, and certainly, there’s a mythic kind of element to the story that I think lends itself to that sort of interpretation, based on who Maverick is and what he represents and the fact that he’s kind of going through this rite of passage at a different phase of his life. So I like that theory. Movies are things that are meant to be interpreted in your own way and based on how you see the world and the experiences that you’ve had. So I will not throw cold water on that. It’s a really cool interpretation of the story."

Kosinski also discussed the odds of a potential sequel, explaining that "if another movie were to happen, it would happen very much in the same way that this one did, which is coming up with a story for Maverick that absolutely has to be told." He concluded: "We’re all enjoying the release of this movie because it was such a long journey. It was five years for me and 35 years for Jerry [Bruckheimer] and Tom. So we’re all just enjoying the response that this film’s gotten. And maybe down the road, if we come up with a story that feels like it absolutely has to happen, then maybe it will, but right now, I think we’re all just enjoying the relief of getting this one out the door."

The film also stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer (the only other cast member to return from the first movie). Cruise produced the long-awaited follow-up with Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, and Mission: Impossible maven, Christopher McQuarrie. Tommy Harper, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Chad Oman, and Mike Stenson are executive producers.

Still playing in theaters, Top Gun: Maverick is now available on Digital and VOD. The film hits Blu-Ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Looking for more wild action? Jurassic World Dominion is now available on Digital, VOD, Blu-Ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD. If you're looking for some more vehicle-based thrills, the penultimate chapter in the Fast & Furious saga — Fast X — arrives in theaters everywhere on May 19, 2023.

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