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Tom Cruise’s Jacket Stripped of Taiwanese, Japanese Patches in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Trailer

The film had Chinese financial backing. Was the costume decision meant to appease the country's Communist Party?

Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick"

Maverick’s jacket shown in the “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer.

[Paramount] / screen cap

After the “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer dropped last week, sharp-eyed fans noticed something had changed with Tom Cruise’s titular character in the three decades since the original movie was released.

Cruise is back with his iconic leather jacket in the sequel, but the patches on the back of the bomber are slightly tweaked: Japanese and Taiwanese flags have been replaced by two symbols with similar color schemes.

The Globe and Mail’s Mark MacKinnnon in a tweet postulated that the move was meant to appease Chinese authorities.

Tencent Pictures, a division of the Chinese tech conglomerate, was a financial backer of the Paramount film. The company is co-marketing the new “Top Gun” in China — a crucial market for US studios that’s on track to become the top moviegoing country in the world.

Taiwan is a democratic self-governing island off the coast of mainland China. Beijing views Taiwan as part of China and wants to see it become part of the communist country, but many Taiwanese want independence for the capitalist island.

Meantime, China and Japan have historically enjoyed strained relations.

A representative from producer Skydance Media declined to comment.

Representatives from Paramount, Tencent Pictures, and Jerry Bruckheimer Films did not return requests for comment Monday. Neither did a representative for costume designer Marlene Stewart.

While appeasing China’s ruling Communist Party is an obvious explanation, there could be another story behind the wardrobe evolution.

Maverick’s patch in “Top Gun” is from his father’s Vietnam tour. The new patch says “85-86” and “Indian Ocean Cruise” — perhaps a reference to where some of the action took place in the 1986 original.

In the “Maverick” trailer, viewers are reminded that the pilot is a badass with his own impressive record of accomplishments, including combat medals and citations and the title of being the “only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last forty years” — exactly the kind of guy who could teach a thing or two to the next generation of aviators.

Patches in “Top Gun” have been a running joke among real-life Navy pilots like Ward Carroll, a military journalist, Carroll said in a tweet. “Seek no meaning because there is none,” he said in response to the controversy.

“Top Gun: Maverick,” directed by Joseph Kosinski, is set for release next June.

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