The orange-red glow of the setting sun on the flight deck. The melodious twang of Steve Stevens’ guitar floating a few poignant chords on the breeze. The raucous sound of Kenny Loggins screaming “Danger Zoooooone”. Tom Cruise in aviator sunglasses. If these sights and sounds don’t either put you right in the cockpit of an F-14 or make you want to watch Top Gun again, are you even excited about Top Gun 2?
The new film, which reunites original producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer as fighter pilots Maverick and Iceman, is set 30 years after the original film. With such a long time having passed, there are several questions Top Gun fans have after three decades. Questions like, what happened to Goose’s son? Is the Top Gun school obsolete? And will there be another volleyball scene? Here are ten of the questions we need answers to when the film comes out in 2020.
10 IS THE "LOST ART OF AERIAL COMBAT" STILL A THING?
The opening of Top Gun consists of a screen of exposition, detailing how the “Top Gun” school began in 1969 when the Navy wanted to directly address the “lost art of aerial combat” following the Vietnam War. It focused on the unparalleled skills of the best fighter pilots in the Navy, participating in simulated dogfights to prepare for the real thing.
After 30 years, with jets like the F-14s retired, it’s unlikely that dog fights are even something the pilots at Top Gun focus on. It’s been implied that the new movie will shift away from the “dying” dogfight days and steer towards the piloting of automatic drone aircraft.
9 DID MAVERICK EVER BECOME A TOP GUN INSTRUCTOR?
After his “maverick” maneuvers engaging several Russian MiG-28 fighter jets on a rescue mission over international waters, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was given any position he wanted after graduating Top Gun despite only being a lieutenant. He wanted to follow in his mentor Viper’s footsteps, and become an instructor at Top Gun.
Did this really happen? Early interviews with Tom Cruise confirm that Maverick is indeed now a flight instructor, now middle-aged, and teaching pilots how to prepare for the future of piloting drone aircraft. Promotional stills involve him in front of an F-18, so perhaps he still has a need for speed.
8 WHAT HAPPENED TO COUGAR?
In the opening of the film, several pilots and their naval flight officers are undergoing standard flight drills. They are inexplicably engaged by several Russian MiG-28 fighter jets, one of which locks onto one pilot’s (callsign “Cougar”) F-14 with the intent to fire. Luckily, he gets spooked by Maverick performing an inverted maneuver right over his cockpit and disengages.
Cougar is visibly shaken by the ordeal, almost unable to land his jet with himself and his NFO inside. He claims he was too focused on his own mortality and therefore he’s “lost his edge”, causing him to turn in his badge. He was purported to be a better pilot than Maverick, but he’s never mentioned again.
7 WHAT'S THE STORY WITH MAVERICK'S DAD?
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Duke Mitchell, Pete Mitchell’s father and an ace fighter pilot in his own right. As far as Maverick knew, he disappeared in 1964 behind enemy lines and was never seen from again. Viper, his mentor at Top Gun and a pilot who flew with his father, filled in a little of the story, but not much.
We know Duke flew “with distinction”, and we know he disappeared somewhere on the wrong side of the line in Vietnam, but that’s it. Perhaps we’ll get some flashback scenes in Top Gun 2, or perhaps a grizzled Duke played by Clint Eastwood will emerge on the tarmac, wild and crazed from living in the jungle for five decades.
6 WHY EXACTLY DID MAVERICK HAVE A BAD FAMILY REP?
One of the first things we learn about Maverick in Top Gun is that he has a reputation for playing fast and loose with the rules of engagement. He’s cocky and hot-headed, which his superiors view as deterrents to becoming a top fighter pilot, but they can’t deny his natural talent for aerial combat.
Still, it's not completely his fault; apparently whatever his father Duke Mitchell did during his time in the cockpit was enough to prevent him from getting into “the Academy”. What could a family member have done that was so bad, that it would affect their next of kin from being allowed to make amends?
5 WHAT HAPPENED TO GOOSE'S SON?
One of the most heart-wrenching scenes in Top Gun involves Goose, Maverick’s NFO and best friend. After Iceman’s jetwash accidentally causes the engines to malfunction on Maverick’s F-14, he and Goose are forced to eject while their jet goes down. Unfortunately, while Maverick ejects into open air, Goose ejects directly into the canopy and breaks his neck.
Not only does Maverick have to deal with the pain of losing the “only family he has”, he also has to provide solace for Goose’s wife, Carole, and her young son. Will we see him grow up to want to follow in Goose’s footsteps? And if he does, will Maverick see him as a happy reminder of his friend or a ghost from the past?
4 DID MAVERICK AND ICEMAN STAY FRIENDS?
Following the success of their mission to provide air support for the rescue of the USS Enterprise, Maverick and Iceman are hailed as heroes. Not only did they work well together while engaging several MiG-28’s at once, they were able to put past competitive grudges behind them to do so. We see them hug in the last few minutes of Top Gun, with beaming smiles of respect.
Iceman was always the most measured pilot, with the strictest adherence to regulations, while Maverick was a wildcard that had undeniable natural abilities in a cockpit. Did these two opposite remain friends? Was Maverick ever Iceman’s wingman again? Did they both blame themselves for Goose’s death?
3 DID CHARLIE AND MAVERICK LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
Throughout Top Gun, Kelly McGillis’s Charlie and Tom Cruise’s Maverick maneuvered around their burgeoning romance like two jets in a dogfight, each one outmaneuvering the other with psychological warfare until finally one of them caved. And thus began forbidden romance between a Top Gun instructor and her most audacious student.
At the end of the film, she leaves a great job in Washington just to come back for our boy Maverick, implying that the two gave their romance a real shot. However, since Jennifer Connelly has been tied to Top Gun 2, it may mean Charlie is out of the picture. No doubt after Maverick became a Top Gun instructor too their competitive natures got the better of them.
2 WHO'S THE NEW BAD GUY?
While there was no directly malevolent combat in Top Gun that could be tied to the Russians (they denied any engagements took place), our F-14’s frequently tangled with their MiG-28’s. After interfering with our boys providing air support for a rescue mission of the USS Enterprise, three of six MiG-28’s got blown out of the sky by Iceman and Maverick.
Given that there may not be any direct “bad guy” in Top Gun 2, whose aircraft will our pilots engage with this time? If dogfighting isn’t happening anymore and it comes down to drone warfare, which country will we be engaging with? Russia again? North Korea? The political climate of today may make a difference in who’s chosen.
1 WILL THERE BE A VOLLEYBALL REMATCH?
Besides the amazing dogfight scenes, one of the most standout scenes in all of Top Gun was undeniably the volleyball scene on the beach. With their oiled up bodies glistening in the sun (minus Goose), Iceman, Slider, and Hollywood took on Maverick, Goose, and Merlin, with Maverick’s team, unfortunately, losing their last game.
Goose begged Maverick to stay and play one final game to break their competitor’s streak, but Maverick had a hot date with Charlie and wouldn't oblige. So it begs the question...will there be an epic rematch in Top Gun 2 in Goose’s memory? Or will Maverick fail Goose a second time...