What disease did Val Kilmer’s Iceman have in Top Gun: Maverick?

Top Gun: Maverick was Tom Cruise’s most awaited project this year. While fans of the original film were pumped to see the action superstar return to the screen with some insane action sequences, they also wanted to know which original cast was returning.

Those who have watched the original will know that there would be no Top Gun without Val Kilmer’s Iceman. In fact, we still don’t know who the better pilot is between Iceman and Maverick.

So, when fans knew that Val Kilmer was returning for a cameo on the silver screen to reprise his role as Iceman Kazansky, the excitement levels flew through the roof. However, it was intriguing to see how the film depicted the character. Val Kilmer barely spoke a few words and yet created a lasting impact.

So why didn’t Val Kilmer’s Iceman speak much in Top Gun: Maverick? What disease did he suffer from?

Top Gun: Maverick | NEW Official Trailer (2022 Movie) - Tom Cruise

Val Kilmer’s Iceman has throat cancer. As a result, he couldn’t speak much in the film. This is a powerful representation of the character and the actor because Val Kilmer himself has successfully beaten throat cancer in real life.

In 2014, Val Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer. It was a difficult battle, and the actor had to go through a tracheotomy. Due to this, he lost his vocal capabilities and even worked with a company to recreate his voice through Artificial Intelligence.

Val Kilmer’s Iceman Cameo Explained: Why didn’t Iceman speak in Top Gun: Maverick?

Even after beating the disease, Val Kilmer’s long-lasting struggle is a journey none of us can imagine going through, but the man takes it in his stride. So, when Top Gun: Maverick was being made, it was a no-brainer that Val Kilmer’s Iceman had to be in it.

In fact, the team took immense efforts to pay homage to the actor by depicting his illness on the screen in an empathetic, powerful, and inspirational way. In the first Top Gun, the dynamic between Iceman and Maverick is the key focus of the film.

The two pilots used to constantly engage in one-upmanship and never agreed with each other’s flying philosophies. However, towards the end, after a near-death battle, the two build trust and become friends.

In Top Gun: Maverick, we hear of Iceman right from the beginning. Despite appearing for just a few minutes in the film, we see how he never let go of Maverick. He always believed in him, despite his antics, and never left his corner.

Before Iceman comes on the screen, we see Maverick meet his wife at the door, who tells him how his disease is back and is turning out to be worse than the last time. However, the name of the illness is not mentioned.

When Maverick and Iceman come face to face, their emotional connection is palpable. The former feels bad seeing his wingman like that but doesn’t address it because it is what it is. Add to that the immense guilt he’s been carrying for over 30 years because his partner died in an accident.

Val Kilmer’s Iceman Cameo Explained: Why didn’t Iceman speak in Top Gun: Maverick?
Top Gun: Maverick

Iceman appears as that man who grounds Maverick and eases his burden. Throughout the scene, he just types on the screen because he can’t speak. His sentences are short but to the point. The moment the words ‘It’s time to let go’ appeared on the black computer screen, it was not just Maverick who teared up.

After their conversation, when Pete is about to leave, Val Kilmer’s Iceman finally speaks, only to ask him, ‘Who’s a better pilot?’ There’s this sad smile on all our faces as the cameo ends.

If you’re a fan of the original film, the emotion is very much real in this sequel that has come out after over 36 years. Moments like these make for a great payoff for the characters and, in Iceman’s case, even the actor playing him.

Iceman’s role ends with him succumbing to the disease and a funeral that marks the departure of a legendary pilot who was second to none. Not even Maverick.

Watch Top Gun: Maverick on:

About Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick is a Paramount film (and sequel) starring Tom Cruise who reprises his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell from the 1986 Top Gun. It is directed by Joseph Kosinski, with a screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie and a story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks.

Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer are part of the cast.

The film sees Maverick’s return to the US Navy pilots as he trains a new squad of aviators, preparing them for a dangerous mission. Upon release, the movie was a massive success and became the highest grossing film of Tom Cruise so far. 

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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