Neil deGrasse Tyson has a reputation for a being of a bit of scientific party-pooper when it comes to action movies and science fiction movies. He’s often made observations online how unlikely the events depicted are, to the collectively groans of the internet. He recently set his sights on Top Gun: Maverick, and Twitter wasn’t having it.
“Tom Cruise’s character Maverick ejects from a hypersonic plane at Mach 10.5, before it crashed. He survived with no injuries,” deGrasse Tyson’s first tweet reads. “At that air speed, his body would splatter like a chainmail glove swatting a worm. Just sayin’.” He continues by explaining exactly how Cruise’s character in the thriller movie would’ve died.
“When Maverick ejected at Mach 10.5, he was going 7,000 mph, giving him 400 million joules of kinetic energy — the explosive power of 100 kg of TNT. A situation that human physiology is not designed to survive,” another tweet reads. “So, no. Maverick does not walk away from this. He be dead. Very dead.”
Switching to another scene, deGrasse Tyson points out a flaw in Maverick’s strategy. “[In Top Gun: Maverick], they dangerously fly under the radar, through a narrow, winding canyon to destroy a target, avoiding multiple banks of surface-to-air missiles,” he writes. “But why not first take out the missile banks? Could then fly without daredevil maneuvers. Just sayin’.”
Fans of Top Gun 2, and Tom Cruise movies, were quick to point out that we’re not talking any old Hollywood star here. This is Tom Cruise. “Maybe YOU would be dead but Tom Cruise was born with jet fuel in his blood,” says one user, referencing a quote from Miles Teller where Cruise stated he was literally born with jet fuel coursing through his body.
There’s actually a prevalent fan theory that believes Maverick does die during that scene, and the rest is a dream sequence from his perspective. Director Joseph Kosinski isn’t against such interpretation.
“Movies are meant to be interpreted in a variety of ways, and I love it when people read different meanings into it,” Kosinski told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Either way, looking at films in terms of hard science is a fast way to find fault in just about anything. Check out our list of the best movies for some genuine escapism.