Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Top Gun: Maverick.
Now that Top Gun: Maverick is in theaters, fans are rushing to see it on screen. In the film, Tom Cruise returns to star as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the pilot's seat. Decades after we last saw him in the 1986 film, not much has changed at all for the pilot — but one event at the beginning of the movie might actually change the course of everything.
In the wake of the film's release, some fans have developed a theory that claims that Maverick dies at the beginning of the new Top Gun movie — and is actually dead throughout the rest of the film. Here's what we know.
This 'Top Gun: Maverick' fan theory claims Maverick is actually dead.
In Top Gun: Maverick, we see Maverick more than 30 years into his time serving in the Navy. He's training a new batch of graduates who are preparing for a special assignment. In the time that has passed since the first film, he has apparently not received any promotions — which is kind of surprising, considering his decades in service.
But because of one major plot point in the film, there are some who believe that Maverick is actually dead for the entire film. That's because at the very beginning of Maverick, we see the plane he's in blow up.
In the first scene of the movie, Maverick is pushing the jet he is flying to its limits. Thanks to funding cuts, this is most likely the last time he will be able to try something like this in this particular aircraft. Once he reaches Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound, he continues to see just how fast the jet can go until a scene from the ground shows it fracturing into pieces while still in the sky.
Despite the explosion, we later see Maverick waltzing through the diner, much to the shock of everyone there. We don't see how he survived the catastrophe ... which is why some people think he didn't survive it.
They think that instead of seeing Maverick's real life after surviving the explosion, the rest of the film is actually about him coming back to Earth after dying and dealing with unfinished business.
At the very end of the movie, Maverick crashes yet again. If you're an adherent of the "Maverick is dead the whole time" theory, this second crash can be seen as his finishing what he needed to during his time in limbo. Now, he's ready to finally rest in peace and truly move on into the afterlife.
Is the theory true? Probably not, but that hasn't stopped people from wondering about the true fate of our favorite pilot.
Top Gun: Maverick is exclusively in theaters now.