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Fighter vs Top Gun vs Top Gun: Maverick: Here’s who we think grabbed the top spot and why

How does Fighter starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone fare in comparison to the two Tom Cruise-led films?

Chandreyee Chatterjee Calcutta Published 01.02.24, 04:52 PM
(L-R) Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, Deepika Padukone and Hrithik Roshan in Fighter.

(L-R) Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, Deepika Padukone and Hrithik Roshan in Fighter. IMDb

You can’t show a girl a movie with fighter pilots dogfighting in the air and not have her immediately craving for a fix of the original movie that made many young people want to become air force pilots or at least fall in love with them.

Obviously, having watched Siddharth Anand’s Fighter, first day first show, last weekend was dedicated to rewatching Top Gun (1986) and Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Of course, comparisons were difficult to avoid; so yes, I am going to go there and do that. Here’s how Fighter, starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone, fared in comparison to the Tom Cruise-headlined Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick.


The glamour quotient

Nope. No. Nuh-huh. No amount of slo-mo shots of Hrithik Roshan’s Patty, Deepika Padukone’s Minni or their band of boys in their G-suits can match the strut of Tom Cruise’s Maverick, Val Kilmer’s Iceman or Anthony Edwards’ Goose. Not Glen Powell’s Hangman, Mike Teller’s Rooster or Monica Barbaro’s Phoenix in Top Gun: Maverick matches up to the original.

Whether it is walking to and from their planes, showing the upside-down birdie in air, exchanging friendly fire in on-ground sessions or razzing each other in locker rooms, Top Gun is the clear winner here. Even Cruise’s tamer ‘fly by’ oozes more attitude than Hrithik’s ‘low inverted run’, which feels more like showing off than breaking rules.

Then there is that beach volleyball. Oh man! Neither the snow-kabaddi sequence in Fighter nor the beach football in Maverick is close to the volleyball face-off Top Gun. And I’d take Cruise on the Kawasaki over Hrithik or Deepika on the Royal Enfield any day.

Winner: Top Gun

The stakes

Since neither Top Gun nor Top Gun: Maverick include missions that threaten the air force as a whole or pose a threat of all out war, Fighter’s stakes feel higher. Fighter does follow Maverick’s mission-across-the-enemy-line formula, but the retaliation on the Indian defence bases raises the stakes. Top Gun’s protecting a naval vessel and taking out an uranium plant before it is operational never feel as personal and the threat never seems very real or tangible, despite enemy involvement.

While the idea of Maverick being caught behind enemy lines is tension-worthy and Rooster’s daring saviour act is commendable. The Air Dragon’s coming together to rescue captured pilots from behind enemy lines in Fighter just adds that extra zing.

Winner: Fighter

The aerial sequences

Reddit is on fire discussing if Fighter’s VFX-heavy aerial sequences match up to or fall short of the practical stunts pulled off with minimal VFX in Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick. Well, VFX or not, Fighter’s dogfight sequences have quite the impact. The dogfight sequences in Top Gun and Maverick are jaw-dropping because they are shot with actual planes, especially Maverick’s final daredevil mission. But visually Fighter’s hard stops and last-minute “hard rights” in the Sukhois and the final dogfight with “Red Nose” look pretty darned impressive.

Tie: Between Maverick and Fighter.

The soundtrack

Harold Faltermeyer’s Top Gun theme is as unforgettable as the man in the G-suit and the machine he flew. Even today it gives you goosebumps and instantly transports you to the sunny, sweaty climes of Fightertown, California. If Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone reminds you of the action, Berlin’s Take My Breath Away recalls the sultry romance between Cruise and Kelly McGillis.

Can you remember even one track from Fighter? Do you even remember if there is a theme music? Nope. While Vande Mataram does pump up the adrenaline during the climax sequences, it doesn’t stay with you. Top Gun: Maverick does have some great songs but it’s the original film’s tunes used in the sequel that still stays with you.

Winner: Top Gun

Overall impact

If there was one thing that Top Gun fell short of, it was the lack of interpersonal relationships. While the camaraderie between the Top Gun candidates was commendable, it was never in focus. Even the reason for Maverick’s drive to break rules was not highlighted enough. It is the introduction of the personal angle between Rooster and Maverick that gave Top Gun: Maverick the edge over the original.

Fighter went the same way and was better for it, even though the tension between Hrithik’s Patty and Anil Kapoor’s Rocky never hit the note that Maverick and Rooster’s did. It would have been a tie between Fighter and Maverick had it not been for the overtly oppressive Pakistan bashing angle of the former. Fighter could have taken a lesson from Maverick on how to not name an enemy and still make an impact.

Winner: Top Gun: Maverick

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