The 1986 classic Top Gun has remained a beloved film for many years. It brings action, humor and heart as viewers watch pilot Pete Mitchell take to the skies. However, its sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, may be an even better film than its predecessor for one key reason: its exciting plot.
In many cases, long-awaited sequels that come out decades after their initial films can exhibit many shortcomings. They may be too pandering, change too much from the original story or not know how to meet the expectations of both new and old audiences. Maverick does not succumb to any of these issues. In fact, it not only incorporates many well-executed callbacks to the 1986 film but also gives viewers an exciting mission to invest in while enjoying the incredible aerial stunts and motorcycle rides with Tom Cruise.The first Top Gun film follows Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his copilot “Goose” as they attend Top Gun naval academy, where Maverick develops a rivalry with “Iceman,” another skilled pilot.
Maverick also has a steamy romance with one of his instructors, a beautiful astrophysicist named Charlie. Most of the scenes throughout the first two acts rotate between loving moments with Charlie and Maverick and training maneuvers highlighting Maverick’s competition with Iceman. And there’s even the iconic beach volleyball game, interjected between scenes where Charlie chases Maverick through traffic to confess her feelings and Maverick getting scolded for leaving his wingman during a flight exercise.
This first film functions mainly as a character study of Maverick himself, particularly in the latter half when Goose dies during an accident and Maverick must navigate his guilty feelings. He goes to his instructor, “Viper,” to resign from Top Gun; to convince him otherwise, Viper explains that he flew with Maverick’s father and watched him sacrifice himself during a mission to save countless lives. This story comforts Maverick enough to attend graduation, though Iceman comes first in their class. Maverick learns that he will not always be the best, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a talented pilot.