Top Gun: Maverick sparks joy in Taiwan after its flag features on Tom Cruise jacket

Show caption An ad for Top Gun-Maverick in Hong Kong. Hollywood has risked anger in China by featuring the flags of Taiwan and Japan on Tom Cruise’s jacket. Photograph: Liau Chung-ren/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock Top Gun: Maverick Top Gun: Maverick sparks joy in Taiwan after its flag features on Tom Cruise jacket Reports of cheers at an advance screening as Hollywood risks anger in Beijing at depiction on apparel of Cruise’s Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell Sian Cain @siancain Wed 1 Jun 2022 06.12 BST Share on Facebook

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When the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick was first released online, keen-eyed viewers noticed a key detail from the 1986 original had changed: Taiwanese and Japanese flag patches on the back of a jacket worn by Tom Cruise appeared to have gone, leading to speculation they were removed to appease China’s censors.

But the two flags remain in the cut being screened in Taiwan, with local news outlet Setn reporting that audiences at an advance screening cheered and applauded at the sight of the jacket. The inclusion of the flags left “many Taiwanese viewers moved, surprised and delighted”, Setn reported.

The jacket, worn by Cruise’s Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as a tribute to his late father, appeared in Top Gun. The flags are a reference to his father’s service on the USS Galveston CLG-3 cruiser in the Pacific Ocean.

The Taiwanese flag is regarded as a symbol of defiance and independence by Beijing, which considers the island to be Chinese territory under the “one China principle”. Taiwan has long campaigned for international recognition of its independence.

It is expected that Top Gun: Maverick will not be released in China, which permits only a few foreign films to be screened each year and only those that are approved by censors.

“Hollywood is now pushing back,” Chris Fenton, a former movie executive who wrote a book about Hollywood and Chinese censors, told Bloomberg. “The market is simply not worth the aggravation anymore in attempting to please Chinese censors.”

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese tech giant Tencent was initially set to back the $170m film but pulled out over concerns that supporting a film celebrating the US military could anger Beijing. Tencent has not yet responded to requests for comment from media.

In 2021, actor John Cena apologised to furious Chinese fans on his Weibo account after he called Taiwan “a country” during an interview with a Taiwanese broadcaster.