…had the cast-iron balls to go with a Bridges at Toko-Ri ending, rather than the triumphant one they chose. I’m talking about Tom Cruise‘s titular character and Miles Teller‘s “Rooster” Bradshaw suffering the same fate that William Holden and Mickey Rooney did 68 years ago. I’m talking about Cruise and Teller being surrounded by enemy troops after crash landing and putting up a good Wild Bunch-level fight before being outflanked and shot to death.

Dying together would have added poignance to the brotherly bond that Maverick had with Rooster’s dad, “Goose”, back in the ’80s, not to mention ending the contentious vibe that exists between Rooster and Maverick from the beginning.

A death ending would also have said “oh and by the way? War isn’t a fucking video game….it’s real, and sometimes the mission doesn’t go perfectly and sometimes good pilots buy the farm.”

A Cruise-and-Teller Toko Ri ending would probably translate into a slightly diminished box-office, agreed, but maybe not. A major character dying at the end of Titanic didn’t hurt the returns any. Not to mention Daniel Craig getting killed at the close of the highly successful No Time To Die.