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Top Gun 2’s most surprising scene shot down by astronaut

He may do all his own stunts, but Tom Cruise has been called out for this moment in Top Gun Maverick, and we're inclined to believe a real-life astronaut.

Tom Cruise as Pete Maverick Mitchell in Top Gun 2, as part of the astronaut meme

We respect the hell out of Tom Cruise for all he has done for the art of filmmaking. The way that guy throws himself into stunts is incredibly admirable, and a little bit crazy. But, when a real-life astronaut calls bullshit on something he’s seen in Top Gun, we’re inclined to believe him.

Maverick was the Top Gun sequel we never knew we needed, but damn are we happy it exists. It was one of the best movies of 2023, and there’s even a theory that Top Gun 2 was the film that saved cinema in the wake of Covid-19. The Tom Cruise flick contains scene after scene of edge-of-your-seat, awe-inspiring stunts and epic action, the kind that makes it one of the most rewatchable new movies of the last few years.

It may be one of the best Tom Cruise movies ever made, but it seems there are some issues behind the science in the film. Vanity Fair tasked a literal astronaut with watching a few choice scenes from various aerospace films, and let’s just say Chris Hadfield wasn’t impressed with what he saw from Maverick.

The scene in question comes pretty early on in Top Gun 2, and it’s when Cruise defies orders to take a fighter jet out for a test spin. He also, seemingly, defies the laws of physics, as he breaks Mach 10, obliterates his jet, and crash-lands back on Earth in a ball of fire. Now, we think this scene is a riot, and really lets us know we are about to embark on one of the best airplane movies of all time.

But, Hadfield soon picks the scene apart with all his fancy astronaut knowledge. “Did he say fastest man alive? I’m an astronaut, I’ve gone Mach 25,” Hadfield says. “He gets up to Mach 10 and he just can’t help himself, he’s got to go a little bit faster. When I was flying an F-18 doing engine testing, we would take it up almost 40,000 feet, at just under Mach 2, pretty fast for an F-18.”

“I would pull back on the stick and go up, and each time I get a little more confident, a little more brazen, and pushing the envelope even further… it’s sort of in the nature of a test pilot, but it’s tempered by the thought of ‘how far can I push this?’ You can see Tom doing that. But if I made it to Mach 10, then 10.1 is such a little change, it’ll be alright. In reality, that wouldn’t have wrecked the vehicle,” Hadfield adds.

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OK, so Mach 10 isn’t as destructive as we thought, but we’ll forgive the Top Gun cast for getting us so excited because the scene is so brilliant regardless. After all, we aren’t ranking Top Gun 2 as one of the best action movies of the last decade because of its scientific accuracies.

Who knows, maybe Cruise will reach Mach 25 if we ever get a Top Gun 3. Until then, find out about other films which require a suspension of disbelief, like Avatar 3 and Deadpool 3. For more Cruise, here’s the latest on the Mission Impossible 8 release date and our guide to watching the Mission Impossible movies in order.