The Maverick Effect: Diversity and Success in Top Gun’s Sequel

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In a landscape where diversity in cinema is often an afterthought, “Top Gun: Maverick” breaks the mold with its diverse cast and cross-demographic appeal, setting records and capturing the enduring appeal of the Fighter Pilot Mindset℠ in the 21st century, reshaping perceptions and inspiring audiences worldwide.

Paramount Home Entertainment announced that “Top Gun: Maverick” has shattered records, becoming the top-selling week-one digital sell-through release of all time in Australia. Garnering a staggering $1.4 billion at the global box office and climbing, this sequel has solidified its place in cinematic history, ranking as the third highest-grossing film in Australia and the fifth highest-grossing film in the USA.

Diverse viewership set Maverick apart

What sets “Top Gun: Maverick” apart isn’t just its financial success; it’s the diversity within its viewership that truly shines. With 78 million theater tickets sold in the U.S. alone, 45% of the viewers who saw Maverick were under 35 years old and 34% of the viewers were non-white.

“Top Gun: Maverick” received an A+ CinemaScore rating in exit polls from audiences on opening night and continues to hold a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Diversity within Fighter Pilot culture

The diversity within Maverick’s cast also came through on the screen. While the original “Top Gun” featured an almost exclusively white male cast, the sequel embraces the changing demographics of the military and society at large. With seven out of twelve aviators being people of color, the film reflects the real-world diversity of the US armed forces, where 43 percent of active-duty military personnel are not white.

The characters in “Top Gun: Maverick” aren’t tokenized representations either. They are fully realized individuals whose race, ethnicity, or gender never define their abilities or limit their potential. Take Natasha “Phoenix” Trace, portrayed by Monica Barbaro, for example. As one of the film’s few female characters, Trace isn’t relegated to a supporting role or sidelined for her gender. Instead, she takes her place in the cockpit, flying in the front seat of the plane and participating in the film’s climactic mission.

How did inclusion and equity lead to success?

“Top Gun: Maverick” stands out as a beacon of representation done right. The film’s success at the box office sends a clear message to Hollywood executives: movies with diverse casts can resonate with audiences worldwide. Moreover, the success of “Top Gun: Maverick” points towards the broad and cross-demographic appeal of the Fighter Pilot mindset, transcending barriers and inspiring audiences of all backgrounds.

As we celebrate the accomplishments of “Top Gun: Maverick,” let’s also recognize the importance of diversity in storytelling. By embracing diverse perspectives and experiences, Hollywood can continue to push boundaries and tell richer, more inclusive stories that resonate with audiences everywhere. “Top Gun: Maverick” is not just a movie; it’s a testament to the power of diversity and representation in film.




Film Ink. (n.d.). Top Gun: Maverick to break records becoming the top-selling week-one digital sell-through release of all time in Australia. Film Ink.

Radillo, R. (2022). Top Gun: Maverick with its diverse cast. CBR.

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