Sunday, December 20, 2020

TOP GUN 2: THE SUPERGUN, Or "SDI-Punk" Continues...

As we are all aware by now, there's a long-delayed sequel to the 1980s military adventure film Top Gun, currently slated to premiere during the summer of 2021. In the present day, Maverick is a test pilot and doing his best to avoid advancing in rank to the point he wouldn't be flying anymore or getting pushed out due to not advancing in rank. However, as my regular readers know, I recently hosted guest posts from author Ken Prescott on a proposed new genre called "SDI-Punk" and films and especially books that would fit. I also wrote a post of my own that emphasized the "punk" elements. When I shared the posts online, Baen author Christopher DiNote suggested that Top Gun would fit in the genre, but I didn't think it was speculative enough--it doesn't have the sort of advanced versions of period technology the way steampunk (Babbage engines, more dirigibles) or dieselpunk (rocket packs, Nazi or Soviet super-science) do.

However, a more elaborate and more "period" Top Gun sequel might fit the bill. There were several incidents in the 1980s where the United States engaged in combat with the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi--one in 1981, two in 1986, and one in 1989, in addition to two incidents of Libyan-sponsored terrorism. During Operation El Dorado Canyon, Gadhafi retaliated against U.S. airstrikes by firing SCUD missiles at a US base in Italy--although they didn't do any significant damage, they scared the stuffing out of the local Italians and the Italian government planned but ultimately didn't go through with a retaliatory attack of their own.

So here's an idea for a Top Gun sequel that includes "SDI-Punk" elements. It could be released in the late 1980s or early 1990s to capitalize on the Libyan incidents or the Gulf War or later, so long as Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer look young enough that it's not a "next generation" film like the upcoming sequel (featuring Goose's son) is. The gist of my idea is that Gadhafi's attack on Lampedusa is more effective--more (and/or more effectively used) SCUD missiles or, to be even more fun, Gadhafi has borrowed the services of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's mercenary scientist Gerald Bull and built one or more "superguns." In real history the project was sabotaged and Bull himself assassinated by Israeli agents, but if Saddam loans Bull to Gadhafi, the Israelis might not view him and his project as a threat since a Libya-based supergun couldn't hit Israel.

So Gadhafi builds one or more doomsday mountains with superguns able to strike targets in Chad (where Gadhafi had been fighting wars already) and Italy. The film starts with Maverick and company participating in the 1986 air battles with the Libyans, but while they're recovering from their mission aboard the carrier or on shore leave in Italy, the Libyan attacks on Italy are much more severe than in real history. We're talking more effective SCUDs, attacks by the supergun that can't be intercepted by Patriot missiles, and with Western casualties and significant physical damage, the US and Italy now have to respond. The climax of the film involves the US Navy pilots escorting an Italian strike package to destroy Gadhafi's mega-guns and mobile SCUD launchers (easier said than done given what happened in real history in 1991). This features a series of air battles more impressive than the climax of the original Top Gun, since the NATO forces would be fighting over enemy territory (i.e. antiaircraft fire that wasn't an issue in the original film) against much larger numbers of enemies. The Mig-28 of the original film might reappear, with the lessons learned from the first film making Maverick's tricks less likely to work. The possibility of capture and torture by Libyan forces would be a realistic possibility, unlike the South Yemeni or whoever the enemy was in the first film. And with a much larger crisis that clearly won't be over in one or two days, Maverick and friends might see antiwar protests on CNN or encounter protesters while on shore leave.

(That's the "punk" element, as 1986 is a little over a decade after Vietnam and the Gulf War hasn't put those ghosts to rest. The so-called "anti-imperialists" will be out in force for this.)

This wouldn't be nearly as happy-go-lucky as the original film, but something more akin to the 1976 film or 2019 film about the Battle of Midway. Shore leave in Italy means romantic subplots or fun scenes, but this will be primarily a war film.

You all like? I'm sure this could make for an interesting fan-fic, or a "serial numbers filed off" original novel. Also, here's a podcast episode on the original Top Gun that I'm part of.

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