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This Dark Top Gun: Maverick Theory Actually Makes A Lot Of Sense

It's no secret that 1986's "Top Gun" is still revered today as one of the greatest action movies ever made, and as such, the immense success of its sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," is nothing short of remarkable. While most legacy sequels struggle to live up to the hype of their predecessors, critics have praised "Top Gun: Maverick" for exceeding expectations and improving upon everything that made the original film so iconic. The film holds an astounding 97% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a 99% audience score, and has been universally praised for its incredible action sequences, powerful emotional core, and gorgeous visuals.

The film itself takes place 36 years after the events of "Top Gun" and continues the story of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise), who is currently serving as a test pilot for the U.S. Navy. Following a disastrous test flight of a hypersonic scramjet (in which Maverick shows that his reckless side has not diminished one bit since last we saw him), Maverick is reassigned to the TOPGUN program as an instructor and is forced to train a brand-new group of elite fighter pilots. All told, the film's opening provides us with an easy, clear-cut reason for why Maverick would return to TOPGUN all these years later — though there is one theory floating around the Internet that takes a much darker view on Maverick's "reassignment."

Maverick actually dies in the opening, and the rest of the film is merely a dream

The theory in question originates from a Vulture article by writer Alison Willmore and purports that everything we see after the beginning of the film is actually a death dream. According to the theory, Maverick actually dies aboard the hypersonic jet in the opening — which is torn to pieces when the reckless pilot attempts to reach speeds beyond Mach 10. Admittedly, it's hard to believe that anyone could survive an explosion that scatters pieces of hypersonic jet across the atmosphere, but Maverick (impossibly) lives to fly another day.

The theory goes on to describe how the film's illogical nature comes from Maverick's death dream. Some of the more absurd facets of the film include the fact that Maverick and his trainees (just like in the original film) are facing an ambiguous, unnamed enemy with no direct ties to any country, as well as the fact that Maverick's "punishment" following his insubordination is essentially a promotion. Perhaps the most ironic part of the entire theory is that it almost makes more sense than the movie itself, at least from a logical standpoint.

The irrational nature of the film, coupled with Maverick's seemingly impossible survival in the film's opening, makes this theory entirely plausible. Indeed, it's very possible that Maverick's last thoughts would be a way of reconciling his own failures, saving the day once more, and proving to the world that he's still the best pilot on the planet.