Eagle-eyed viewers have spotted something different about Tom Cruise’s iconic bomber jacket in the new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick.
The sequel to the 1986 blockbuster is already stirring up controversy just days after its trailer was released, with many claiming the original jacket Cruise’s character Maverick wore more than 30 years ago has been altered to ‘keep China happy’.
In the official Paramount Pictures trailer, two jacket patches appear to have been swapped out and replaced with a couple of similar – but ultimately different – ones.
See if you can spot what the difference is in the trailer below:
Whereas the original patches had shown the Japanese and Taiwanese flags, these have now been swapped for two ambiguous symbols of the same colour scheme.
As per CNN, relations between China and Japan have long been fraught, with tensions increasing in recent years over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Similarly, China and Taiwan also have a complex relationship; Taiwan has been self-governed since separating from China in 1949, but Beijing still views the island as its territory.
As such, social media users have been speculating that the swap has been done to appease China – particularly since people realised Chinese tech giant Tencent (TCEHY) is one of Paramount’s partners on the movie.
"Mystery" solved. China's Tencent Pictures is one of the main producers of Top Gun Maverick: pic.twitter.com/FE4Xq5qKwN
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) July 19, 2019
As per The Japan Times, Beijing is able to influence how it is depicted in American movies, having previously pushed for the portrayal of a friendlier image of China in films.
For example, a script was leaked for a remake of the Cold War film Red Dawn in 2010, which showed China invading the US. After it was leaked, Chinese state-run media rallied against attempts to ‘demonise’ Beijing and MGM spent around $1 million digitally substituting in North Koreans and Russians in place of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
However, while some believe the altered flags were an attempt to make China happy, others speculated they were simply reflecting changes in the storyline.
While the original patch in the 1986 film is from Maverick’s father’s Vietnam tour, the altered patch in the newly released trailer appears to say ’85-86′ along with the words ‘Indian Ocean Cruise’ – in what seems to be a throwback to where the dogfights in the original Top Gun occurred.
Others still believed it was simply a misunderstanding among the filmmakers, with Ward Carroll – an ex-member of the US Naval Institute – stating the patch assortment on jackets in the Top Gun franchise has always been a ‘running joke’ for those in the Navy Air business.
Carroll, a former pilot of the same aircraft flown by Maverick, the F-14 Tomcat, continued:
They are random in where they are placed and commands they represent. Seek no meaning because there is none.
Better picture of the patch in the new Top Gun movie. It clearly says “Indian Ocean Cruise 85-6.” That correspond to the events of the first Top Gun movie. That doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t change it to appease China, but it’s not the same patch. pic.twitter.com/7zLWlpgI4T
— Audentes Fortuna Iuvat (@gumbeaux37) July 20, 2019
Whatever the reason for the swap, I’m sure it will all become clear when the film is released across cinemas next year. Or not, who knows?
Top Gun: Maverick will be released on July 17, 2020.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).