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Top Gun: Maverick's Climactic Scene Owes A Major Debt To Star Wars

Contains spoilers for "Top Gun: Maverick"

"Top Gun: Maverick" hasn't had an easy flight to the big screen. The Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel was originally set for a July 2019 release, although that was first pushed back to June 24, 2020, so there was more time to work on some of the action scenes. Obviously, the pandemic quickly threw many release dates out the window, and "Maverick" slipped three more times before eventually settling on its May 2022 date. Judging by the incredible reaction from critics, it's been well worth the wait.

"Top Gun: Maverick" picks up with Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) who has refused to move up the chain of command in the years since the original "Top Gun" back in 1986. Instead, he spends most of his time testing experimental aircraft — simply as a way of staying in the skies.

When he disobeys direct orders — as any Maverick is wont to do — the Captain is forced to return to the Top Gun school to help train a batch of incredibly talented pilots to carry out an unprecedented mission overseas. The team has to fly into a mountainous region of enemy territory, avoid anti-aircraft missiles, and destroy a Uranium facility built into the mountain. As if that isn't enough, the flyboy also has to reckon with Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his fallen wingman Nick "Goose" Bradshaw. 

The action-packed finale is a hair-raising sequence, as Kosinski cranks up the tension, pushing Maverick and the team closer to danger. Although the original "Top Gun" is a Hollywood classic in its own right, the climactic scene of the new sequel actually owes a major debt to another legendary franchise: "Star Wars." Warning: Once you see the comparison, it's impossible to unsee.

Top Gun: Maverick's finale is the same as the Trench Run in Star Wars

The ending of "Top Gun: Maverick" absolutely borrows its action from the ending of 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope." The whole mission that Maverick trains the pilots for is to infiltrate a mountainous region of an unnamed hostile nation, so that they can destroy a uranium enrichment plant that has been built inside two mountains. According to intelligence, the enemy has nearly finished working on the uranium — meaning they'll soon have their hands on nuclear weapons.

The mission itself requires the pilots to fly very low through an incredibly tight valley so that they avoid detection by enemy radar, which would send anti-aircraft missiles hurtling toward them. Once they make it through up into the mountains, they have to shoot a missile into what is essentially a large exhaust pipe sticking out of the ground — one that leads down into the heart of the facility itself. Now if that sounds familiar, that's because it's practically beat-for-beat the same run Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has to make at the end of "A New Hope."

Remember, the Rebel fighter pilots fly down the trench in the Death Star, staying low to avoid all the TIE fighters and laser turrets before shooting two proton torpedoes into the base's Thermal Exhaust Port, which is connected to the main reactor. Obviously, this destroys the Death Star completely and takes a weapon of mass destruction out of the Empire's hands.

Joseph Kosinski already knows about the comparisons

Obviously "Top Gun: Maverick" is very much its own beast, compared to "A New Hope" — mainly because it's about a man reckoning with his own legacy as he also trains his own replacements. "Star Wars" is much more about the battle between good and evil, while also being a completely different type of action film. But it is funny that there are so many close comparisons between the two. The enemy fighter pilots in "Maverick" even wear black-tinted helmets like disposable TIE fighter pilots — they'd probably get on well with the Empire. But was director Joseph Kosinski intending to make a "Star Wars" homage in the Tom Cruise vehicle? Sort of.

When /Film spoke to the director on the red carpet, he explained that "Star Wars" wasn't on his mind while shooting "Maverick." However, he noted that the sci-fi classic has always been a part of "Top Gun" in a small way, saying, "I think when Jerry [Bruckheimer] made 'Top Gun,' I think 'Star Wars' was definitely an inspiration for them, so it makes sense that DNA would carry into ours."

Thankfully, Maverick and Rooster have a much better relationship than Darth Vader (James Earle Jones) and Luke Skywalker. By the end of the film, Maverick has essentially filled that father-figure role for his fallen friend's son, and they even repair a plane together. Cute. Oh and Maverick doesn't repeatedly try to kill Rooster with a lightsaber, so there's that too.

As for the dangling question of why the nefarious state actor in "Top Gun: Maverick" took its lair-construction cues from the fatally flawed Death Star — we'll likely never have a satisfactory answer.