The most popular genre of fan theory is “[CHARACTER NAME] is dead and/or coma and the rest of the [MOVIE/TV SHOW TITLE] is a dream.” This galaxy brain-style of thinking has been inflicted upon The Simpsons, The Walking Dead, and even Top Gun: Maverick. “Tom Cruise’s character dies at the start of Top Gun: Maverick,” Alison Willmore wrote for Vulture, explaining that the film’s “absurdity is that of someone dreaming impossible dreams right before they burn up in the atmosphere. You don’t need to see a shot of the crisped but grinning corpse at the end to sense its presence.”
Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski was asked about the theory during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter to celebrate the home release of the highest-grossing movie of 2022. “Movies are meant to be interpreted in a variety of ways, and I love it when people read different meanings into it,” he said. “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 and the fact that he’s kind of going through this rite of passage at a different phase of his life.”
“So I like that theory. Movies are things that are meant to be interpreted in your own way and based on how you see the world and the experiences that you’ve had. So I will not throw cold water on that. It’s a really cool interpretation of the story.”
My Top Gun: Maverick theory is that Tom Cruise is an immortal. Not Maverick the character, but Tom Cruise the person. It would explain a lot.