Why Iceman Doesn’t Speak In Top Gun: Maverick


Val Kilmer returns in Top Gun: Maverick as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, who noticeably has very minimal dialog in the movie, and there are both real-world and story reasons why Val Kilmer can’t speak. Overcoming numerous delays, the Top Gun sequel wound up being one of the most anticipated movies of Tom Cruise’s career. Top Gun: Maverick sees Cruise return as hotshot pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he is now tasked with training TOPGUN graduates for an extremely challenging aerial mission. Kilmer makes a cameo as Iceman, Maverick’s old rival turned friend, with the two characters speaking via text message early on in the movie and Iceman revealing he has terminal throat cancer. As Maverick begins to have doubts that he can train his team in time for the mission, Iceman summons him to his house to give him a pep talk.


Top Gun: Maverick’s Iceman – now a four-star admiral – types out his end of the conversation to Maverick on his computer. However, Iceman works through the pain of speaking near the end of the scene to vocally encourage Maverick for his challenging mission. Val Kilmer can’t speak because, like his character Iceman, he has also battled throat cancer in real life. Though the actor has succeeded in beating the condition, the effects of the disease and his numerous surgeries to combat it have unfortunately severely impacted his ability to speak. Kilmer now communicates through an artificial voice box, making his scene in the movie Top Gun: Maverick even more emotional with the actor being a real-life cancer survivor.

Related: Val Kilmer’s Response Makes Top Gun: Maverick’s Iceman Scene Even Better

Top Gun 2 Used Val Kilmer’s Real Illness To Move The Story Forward

Maverick and Iceman have a head-butting relationship in the original Top Gun, with Iceman viewing Maverick as a reckless, insubordinate pilot. Maverick and Iceman nonetheless gradually grew to respect one another through their travails. With Maverick and Iceman’s rivalry essential to Top Gun, the bond they developed has held strong throughout their respective careers as naval aviators and shined through in the sequel even though Val Kilmer can’t speak.

Following their meeting, Iceman passes away from his throat cancer, and Maverick and his students attend his funeral. However, Top Gun: Maverick‘s attention is very much on Iceman’s cameo – Val Kilmer can’t speak, but this has done nothing to dampen his cheerful, free spirit. At a time when an irrepressible thrill-seeker like Maverick is haunted by uncertainty, especially around his friction with Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his late friend Goose from the original Top Gun, Iceman reminds him of the world-class pilot he’s always been.

Iceman’s faith in Maverick re-instills Maverick’s faith in himself, and Kilmer’s cameo is one of the most powerful moments in the Top Gun sequel, with its layered subtext of the actor’s own real story, including A.I. being used to recreate Kilmer’s voice. Indeed, the fact that Val Kilmer can’t speak in real life gives an even deeper meaning to Iceman’s appearance in Top Gun: Maverick, rendering it a heart-warming tribute to his performance and bringing him back to give Maverick the boost of confidence he needs despite all that he’s been through. They are, after all, ready to be each other’s wingmen any time.

Val Kilmer’s Last Confirmed Performance Made Maverick A Triumph

Top Gun: Maverick’s Val Kilmer cameo was a rare treat – very few people get to make a resounding comeback, wrap up a character, make the story better, and get a 21-gun salute for their troubles. It was the film’s emotional core that helped Maverick reach its thundering success, honoring its roots while allowing the characters to move on. This was only possible through Iceman’s presence. Undeniably, contemporary entertainment’s obsession with ’80s nostalgia peaked with Top Gun: Maverick, and one of the key elements to this is the perfect way in which Val Kilmer’s real-life circumstances were written into the evolution of Maverick and Iceman’s rivalry. Though Iceman only briefly appeared in the movie, his presence as Maverick’s only real ally in the ranks of the Navy was still felt throughout key scenes – and with Iceman’s goodbye being wholly faithful to Top Gun: Maverick‘s epic ’80s action movie roots, Val Kilmer could not have asked for a better farewell to mainstream cinema.

NEXT: How Much Did Top Gun: Maverick Cost To Make (& What Box Office It Needs)


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