Tom Cruise Wows at Cannes for 'Top Gun: Maverick' Premiere: 'I Make Movies for the Big Screen'

Tom Cruise said Wednesday at the Cannes premiere of Top Gun: Maverick that the movie debuting on a streaming service "was never going to happen"

When it comes to his filmography, Tom Cruise is a traditionalist.

During a tribute prior to Wednesday's premiere of Top Gun: Maverick at the Cannes Film Festival, the 59-year-old said he "never" considered a streaming release for his pandemic-delayed movie.

"That was never going to happen. Ever," Cruise said of the sequel's streaming-debut possibility. "I make movies for the big screen."

During Wednesday's panel, Cruise also said he wears a baseball cap to take in his own movies undercover in theaters, and indicated that he strives to make films that will stand the test of time.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premiere, 75th Cannes Film Festival, France – 18 May 2022
Tom Cruise. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

The star arrived at the festival premiere for Maverick — in which he makes a triumphant return as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, after first appearing as the character in 1986's Top Gun — to much fanfare, signing autographs (making sure to use hand sanitizer afterward, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) and receiving a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.

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"I'm gonna take this all in; I'm never gonna forget this evening and I feel very grateful and very blessed," he told the audience ahead of the movie's screening at the Cannes premiere. "Thank you all for being here. Thank you for this time. We're here for you — I make these movies for all of you, and I feel very blessed to be able to do what I do."

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Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly. VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty

Ahead of Maverick's U.S. premiere in theaters, critics are praising Cruise's performance in the "barrier-breaking sequel," as Variety's Peter Debruge writes in his review.

But according to Debruge, Maverick doesn't rely on being "The Tom Cruise Show," and instead involves "perfectly coordinated teamwork among six pilots, recalling the group air battle that bonded Iceman (Val Kilmer) and Maverick in the original movie."

IGN's Matt Donato calls it "the Top Gun sequel purists will crave," praising it as "an out-of-bounds blast of afterburner fumes and thrill-seeker highs that's sure to please audiences looking for a classic summer blockbuster."

There is some criticism, though. As Peter Bradshaw opines for The Guardian, Maverick "is actually less progressive on gender issues than the original film, which did after all put a woman in charge: astrophysicist Charlotte Blackwood, played by Kelly McGillis, was the trainer (inspired by real-life Pentagon official Christine Fox). Now it's Maverick in charge and there is just the one female pilot under his instruction: Phoenix, a thin role for Monica Barbaro."

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The new film finds Maverick 30 years after his graduation from TOPGUN Naval aviation program, when he is called back as an instructor for the elite fliers. Among his young charges is Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his late best friend, Goose (Anthony Edwards in the first movie). Teller, 35, is among the actors cast as a new class of pilots, which includes Glen Powell, Greg Tarzan Davis and Lewis Pullman.

And Cruise did his best to warn them about the flying stunts they'd be performing in the film.

"I was very clear in the beginning: 'This is what it's going to be like. It's not for everyone,' " he recently told PEOPLE in a Top Gun special edition. "I want people to enjoy the experience. 'If you don't want be involved, totally, I understand.' "

Said Pullman, 29, of Cruise, "Every one of the pilots has a story of him talking about what he thinks is great about them, what they can do with that quality. He teaches you, basically, how Tom Cruise became Tom Cruise."

Top Gun: Maverick flies into theaters May 27.

Updated by Carita Rizzo
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