Top Gun 2 Spoiled Iceman's Fate In 2019 - But It Was Still Perfect

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Top Gun: Maverick

Iceman's (Val Kilmer) fate in Top Gun: Maverick was actually spoiled in the sequel's first trailer released in 2019 but it didn't matter because the way it played out in the film is still perfect. Director Joseph Kosinski's Top Gun: Maverick brings back Tom Cruise as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, who leads a new team of the best Top Gun pilots on an impossible mission. Val Kilmer's Iceman is the only legacy character who comes back in Top Gun: Maverick and his appearance is one of the best and most heartwarming moments in the film.

It's easy to forget that in the original Top Gun, it was Iceman who won the Top Gun trophy and not Maverick. Lt. Mitchell was undeniably the star of 1986's Top Gun but he actually came in second in his class. Maverick himself slyly notes this in Top Gun: Maverick when he reminds his new commanding officer, Vice Admiral Beau "Cyclone" Simpson (Jon Hamm), that he didn't win Top Gun in order to "manage expectations." Top Gun: Maverick further reveals that Iceman went on to become Admiral Tom Kazansky, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. With his rank and influence, Iceman became Maverick's "guardian angel" and he protected Captain Mitchell throughout his Navy career each time Maverick was in danger of being kicked out of the service for insubordination. It was also Admiral Kazansky who handpicked Maverick to return to Top Gun and train a class of graduates for the sequel's mission to destroy a secret underground uranium facility. But Iceman, who suffers from terminal throat cancer, also tragically dies in Top Gun: Maverick.

Related: Top Gun: Maverick Ending Explained (In Detail)

Ironically, Top Gun: Maverick's original trailer, which was released in July 2019 and included both a photo of Admiral Kazansky and a glimpse of a military funeral Maverick attends, immediately led fans to believe that Iceman would die in the sequel. None of the movie's marketing over the next three years did anything to quell the belief that Iceman could die. Val Kilmer also publicly battled throat cancer, which robbed the actor of his voice. (Digital wizardry allowed Val to speak in Top Gun: Maverick.) But despite the trailer containing dialogue that "someone's not coming back" from Top Gun: Maverick's main mission, audiences connected the dots and assumed the funeral would be for Iceman. That's indeed what happens in the movie, yet despite this being essentially "spoiled" from the get-go, the assumption that Iceman would die doesn't dampen how effective and powerful Val Kilmer's appearance is in Top Gun: Maverick one bit.

Top Gun: Maverick ingeniously seeded Iceman's appearance by having him text with Maverick throughout the film. This established their decades-long friendship and Ice's unwavering loyalty to his one-time rival. Iceman's throat cancer also cleverly wove in the reality of Val Kilmer's illness to explain why the character appears the way he does in the film. This, in turn, conveys the idea that the legendary Iceman kept Maverick flying so that he could, partly, live through his friend's exploits because Admiral Kazansky is permanently grounded. Further, the scene when Maverick and Iceman meet face-to-face is grippingly emotional because the audience is well-aware that Val Kilmer has heroically survived throat cancer, though it came at a terrible cost to him. Kilmer's performance is pitch-perfect and he and Tom Cruise genuinely make the audience feel like Iceman and Maverick have been the best of friends for decades.

Even if audiences believed Iceman would die in Top Gun: Maverick based on the marketing, Val Kilmer's performance in his lone scene with Cruise is unforgettable and one of the highlights of the movie. If anything, expecting Iceman to die made his appearance even more powerful and heightened Admiral Kazansky's importance, not just to Maverick but to the audience watching as well. Nor was Iceman's death played for shock value; rather, it felt like an organic event that was logically built into the film and resulted in something deeper than merely killing off a legacy character like so many other recent sequels have done. The weight of Iceman's death and the palpable emotion Maverick and the audience feel towards Iceman and Val Kilmer created a perfect moment in Top Gun: Maverick.

Next: Does Maverick Retire At The End Of Top Gun 2?

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