TOP GUN: MAVERICK Director Joseph Kosinski On That Jaw-Dropping Darkstar Opening Sequence (Exclusive)

Top Gun: Maverick wastes no time getting Tom Cruise back into the danger zone with a jaw-dropping Darkstar sequence that director Joseph Kosinski was kind enough to break down for me.

Director Joseph Kosinski opens Top Gun: Maverick in epic fashion with a breathtaking aerial sequence that sees Tom Cruise's Maverick take an SR-72 Darkstar fighter jet to Mach 9... before upping it to Mach 10. 

Speaking with director Joseph Kosinski, he told me more about his first steps after he got the green light from both Cruise and the studio and how he almost immediately got aboard an aircraft carrier to start doing some research. 

"The first thing I did is, I called up the Navy and I got myself on an aircraft carrier out at sea, I went out to the Teddy Roosevelt and got connected with some naval advisors, technical advisors, guys who were XF-14 Tomcat pilots, Super Hornet pilots, and just started diving into their world because I knew the character journey we wanted to tell, but I just needed to familiarize myself with what it meant to be a naval aviator, and pick their brains on what the mission could be and how difficult it could be and what the training would be.

From there, we just started building the story, one layer at a time, took about 15 months to get the draft in shape, and to figure out how to get these cameras inside the cockpit capture for real."

He also explained how the stunning Darkstar sequence came to be, also revealing that the jet was made exclusively for the movie by Skunk Works. 

"That was very much inspired by movies like The Right Stuff and the character of Chuck Yeager in that film, these test pilots who go out there and do things that have never been tried before and this cutting edge machinery, and it just felt like it exemplified the idea of pushing the envelope, which is what Maverick does as a character.

So, for me, just being kind of an aviation buff, and always loving that world, the idea to give people a peek behind the curtain of secret projects - I worked with Skunk Works, which is the division of Lockheed, that actually makes these type of aircraft because I wanted it to feel as real as possible. So, every detail of that is based on reality, the way the aircraft functions, the way it looks, all the switches, and stick are actually taken out of real experimental aircraft.

We built a full-scale model, a full-scale mock-up of the Darkstar aircraft that you see Maverick in in the movie. Yeah, I just wanted to show the audience that the first few minutes definitely feels like a Top Gun movie, but once he gets in that jet, I do also want you to know that we're telling a whole new story, and that sequence kind of helped set that tone up for the movie."

Check out our exclusive interview with Kosinski below:

In our review, we said, "Top Gun: Maverick is the must-see cinematic experience of the year! Packed with jaw-dropping aerial sequences, thrilling edge-of-your-seat moments, genuine heart, epic romance, huge stakes, and one of the absolute best performances of Tom Cruise's legendary career, this is the theatrical experience you've been waiting for."

Tom Cruise headlines the feature as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, with original co-star Val Kilmer returning as Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky. The iconic pair are joined by an all-star supporting cast consisting of Jennifer Connelly as Penny Benjamin, Miles Teller as Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw, Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Cyclone, Glen Powell as Hangman, Lewis Pullman as Bob, Ed Harris as Rear Admiral, Monica Barbaro as Phoenix, Charles Parnell as Rear Admiral Warlock, Danny Ramirez as Fanboy, Manny Jacinto as Fritz, Bashir Salahuddin as Coleman, Jay Ellis as Payback, Jake Picking in an undisclosed role, Raymond Lee in an undisclosed role, Lyliana Wray as Amelia Benjamin, Jean Louisa Kelly as Carole Bradshaw, Greg Davis as Coyote, and Bob Stephenson in an undisclosed role.

Top Gun: Maverick jets into theaters on May 27!


After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.

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