‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Stands up to China

Photo by Gage Skidmore

The producers of Tom Cruise’s box office smash hit “Top Gun: Maverick” stuck it to China with the inclusion of the Taiwanese and Japanese flags in the film’s final cut.

In a callback to the 1986 original “Top Gun,” Cruise’s character, Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, dons a leather jacket featuring patches from his father’s tours in Taiwan and Japan in the early 60s.  

When the sequel showed in Taiwan over the weekend, VICE reported that audiences cheered when their flag came on screen. 

“To be honest, Tom [Cruise] doesn’t necessarily have to wear the same jacket in the opening scene. There’s no way film producers didn’t know the Republic of China (Taiwan’s) flag would cross the Chinese Communist Party’s red line,” a Taiwanese film writer posted on social media. “But they still did it anyway.”

That may be the case now, but the flags did not originally appear in the film’s 2019 trailer, which alternately featured Communist Party friendly symbols in their place instead.  


The decision to include the foriegn nation’s flags in the film likely has less to do with American patriotism than it does with money. Chinese film distributor Tencent Pictures bowed out of financing the film over concerns that the film was “American military propaganda,” and would anger the country’s leaders.    

The movie, which grossed more than $160 million over the holiday weekend, does not currently have a release date in China. Cruise didn’t want to make the sequel, according to director Joseph Kosinski.  

“We flew to Paris, where Tom was shooting ‘Mission: Impossible,’ we got about a half-hour of his time between setups,” Kosinski said. “And I basically had 30 minutes to pitch this film, which I didn’t realize when we were flying over. But when I got there, I found that Tom really didn’t want to make another ‘Top Gun.’”

After the director’s pitch, Cruise called the head of Paramount Pictures and greenlit the movie.

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