Movies & TV Shows

Maverick Fact-Checked By Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson fact-checks Top Gun: Maverick, taking issue with the movie’s opening Mach 10 scene which should’ve killed Maverick.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson fact-checks Top Gun: Maverick. Set 30 years after the original 1986 film, the sequel sees Tom Cruise reprise his iconic role as test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and return to the Top Gun program to train a new generation of fighter pilots for a dangerous mission. Among this group is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw who resents Maverick for his role in his father’s death.


Before he returns to the Top Gun program, one of the film’s first adrenaline-filled scenes finds Maverick pushing a Lockheed Martin SR-71 scramjet nicknamed Darkstar passed Mach 10, which destroys the prototype and forces him to eject from the cockpit at high speed. Later, when Maverick returns to the Top Gun program, he is tasked with training Navy pilots for a mission that involves destroying an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant located in a deep depression at the end of a narrow canyon and is heavily defended by surface-to-air missiles, radar, and fighter jets.

Related: Top Gun 2’s Opening Mach 10 Scene Proves Maverick’s Fatal Obsession

Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson has taken to Twitter to fact-check Top Gun: Maverick. The famed astrophysicist mainly took issue with the Mach 10 scene, claiming that if Maverick actually ejected at that speed, “his body would splatter like a chainmail glove swatting a worm.” Tyson also commented on the movie’s main mission, pondering “Why not first take out the missile banks?” Then, the pilots would be able to “fly without daredevil maneuvers.” Check out Tyson’s series of tweets below:

Is Top Gun: Maverick Realistic?

Though Cruise and company went to great lengths to film Top Gun: Maverick practically and perform many of its death-defying aerial stunts for real, the movie still features some moments that are not entirely realistic, the Mach 10 scene being a prime example. For starters, the experimental aircraft nicknamed Darkstar does not even exist and is only inspired by real-world Lockheed Martin jets, none of which can achieve speeds past Mach 10. Based on Tyson’s fact-checking, Maverick ejecting at such high speeds is not possible either, and the astrophysicist appears to have the scientific evidence to prove it.

Tyson’s second criticism of Top Gun: Maverick, “Why not take out the missile banks?” reads a little like a “Why didn’t the Eagles fly the ring to Mordor?” one of Lord of the Rings’ oft-debated plot holes. The movie actually addresses Tyson’s question though, as the team’s plan is to avoid detection for as long as possible before destroying the primary target. Taking out the missile banks first would have alerted the enemy and allowed them to scramble their own jets sooner. Like most movies, Top Gun: Maverick is a mixed bag in terms of realism, which probably isn’t going to take away from audiences’ enjoyment of this past summer’s biggest blockbuster, nor should it.

Next: How Fast Is Mach 10? What Speed Maverick Travels In Top Gun 2

Source: Neil deGrasse Tyson/Twitter

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