Top Gun: Maverick is the best movie of the year – we spoke to director Joseph Kosinski about what's next

Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Paramount)

Top Gun: Maverick is the best movie of 2022! There was no other picture that thrilled quite like Pete Maverick's return to the skies, filled with kinetic, heart-stopping set-pieces that utilized Tom Cruise's willingness to do almost anything for the perfect shot. It's a rare sequel that did everything right – and we spoke to director Joseph Kosinski about the worldwide reaction to his masterpiece. Here's the Q&A.

Total Film: Congratulations, Top Gun: Maverick is Total Film’s film of 2022!

Wow, that’s incredible. Thank you. We couldn’t have asked for a better response and result. Obviously this is a film we held on to for two years in the hope that cinemas would reopen and people would want to come. And apparently that was the case! I’m so thrilled for everyone who worked on the film.

How did you feel when the film finally, finally came out?

Relief was the main emotion. The screening that sticks out for me was at CinemaCon in Las Vegas [at the end of April]. That was the first time I watched the movie, finished, with a real audience. And you know, walking in there, you could feel the energy in the crowd; and then sitting with them, hearing them respond to different parts of the film... I thought, for the first time, "Maybe all this hard work paid off."

Which parts got the biggest reaction?

I remember people clapping the Simpson/Bruckheimer logo - I guess that was those who remember it from the ’80s and ’90s. Then there were people laughing during the opening Darkstar sequence, when Maverick gets to the diner with the little boy... Things like that were landing right off the bat. During the Iceman scene with Maverick, you could hear some sniffles in the audience. And then Maverick proving the course could be run in two minutes, 15 seconds – that always seems to be a crowd-pleaser.

Shooting the Iceman scene must have been a big moment...

It was certainly one of the most memorable days for me. Val Kilmer’s someone I’ve always admired and Tom [Cruise] has obviously known him since working together on Top Gun. The respect these two men have for each other is evident. The emotions happening in that scene are, I think, very real, very grounded. It wasn’t a scene that took a lot of takes. They were both just right in it from the beginning.

Why do you think the film has connected so well with audiences? 

Something people say to me a lot is that they love the action, they love the aerial sequences... but they go back for the emotion. That’s what brings them back time after time. The first film was a rite-of-passage story, a journey from boy to man. And it seemed to me that this one should also be an emotional journey - I guess you could say from man to father [figure]. You have the relationship with Rooster, the realities of getting older, seeing a close friend pass away... These are things I think all of us can relate to.

Have you had any discussions yet about sequels or spin-offs?

I think we’re all so thrilled with the success of this that we haven’t really thought about the next step. Tom’s off making two Mission: Impossible movies and Jerry [Bruckheimer] and I are collaborating on another movie [about Formula One] we’re hoping to shoot next year. But maybe down the road, when we have a little more perspective on [Top Gun: Maverick] we can ask: is there more to this story that’s worth telling?

For more on the past year, be sure to check out our list of the best TV shows of 2022.