With the phenomenon that the OG movie was, Top Gun: Maverick could’ve easily gone overboard with in-your-face Easter eggs. But even while recreating a few iconic scenes, it chose to not be too loud or overly nostalgic. It was just the right amount to give hardcore fans their due and not make newcomers feel left out.
So, what references to Top Gun can you expect from this film?
Top Gun: Maverick makes several callbacks to the original film, including a new rendition of Great Balls of Fire, a reference to Goose’ death, and giving new character Penny a subtle Top Gun backstory.
Let’s get into them!
1. The Opening Sequence
If Maverick’s title sequence gave you a little déjà vu, it is because it is a shot-for-shot recreation of Top Gun’s opening scene. They’ve even used the same music—Harold Faltermeyer’s theme song that transitions into Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins.
After this, you’ll notice that Maverick also has all his stuff from the previous movie intact, including his aviator glasses, bomber jacket, and Kawasaki Ninja motorbike. Someone ask him for tips on how to keep your belongings in good shape even after three decades!
2. Have we seen Penny before?
Now you may think that Penny Benjamin is a new character created for the sequel. But you’re wrong. Technically, she was mentioned in the original Top Gun movie.
In one dialogue in particular, Maverick was accused of “a history of high-speed passes over five air control towers and one admiral’s daughter!” Courtesy of Goose, we find out that the daughter’s name is Penny.
As great as Kelly McGillis was as Charlie, Jennifer Conolly’s character serves as connection to the original that makes for a perfect replacement for Maverick’s love interest.
On that note, Connolly has a Easter Egg of her own. When her character is introduced on screen, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance is playing in the background. Bowie, as you may recall, starred opposite Connolly in Labyrinth.
3. Great Balls of Fire!
It’s hard not to break into song once you hear Rooster play the notes of Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire. This, of course, is a callback to when his father Goose played and sang the song to his wife, Carole. Like father, like son.
PS: Yes, there is an official film version of Miles Teller singing this song on Spotify.
4. Beach Bonding
Remember when Maverick, Goose, Iceman, and Slider tried to decide who’s the best among them and take it all out with a game on the beach? It seems like Maverick was trying to use topless volleyball once again as a way to get his pilots to bond. Of course, this time around it’s called Dogfight Football.
5. Goose’s Death
We do get flashbacks of Goose’s death, but there is also another reference to it: During a training session, Phoenix and Bob’s aircraft suffer damage from a bird strike. Although they try their best to fly the plane to safety, they have to eject at the very last minute.
It’s a good thing they did so, because the plane ends up crashing and burning—a reminder that pilots are prone to threats even in the comfort of training sessions, just like Goose in the first movie.
6. Don’t Think
One of the mottos that Maverick constantly repeats in Top Gun 2 (especially to Rooster) is “Don’t think, just do.” You are right to believe this is a reiteration of his older dialogue from Top Gun, “You don’t have time to think up there. If you think, you’re dead.”
You may also hear another Top Gun phrase get reused by Payback when he says “Let’s turn and burn!”
7. Top Gun’s End Mission
To get back to safety, Maverick and Rooster try to hijack one of the enemy’s old F-14s. As they’re getting it ready, Rooster keeps making comments about how the aircraft belongs in a museum and may not work for them. Maverick shoots back with, “I shot down three MiGs in one of these things!”
That actually did happen when Maverick and the other Top Gun pilots were called in for a mission at the end of the original movie—and he did shoot down three enemy aircraft with his F-14.
8. Pinging Air Control
At the end of Top Gun 2, Maverick takes Penny in his craft and flies by a control tower—which is a rule break. Being a naughty rascal is one of the things that makes Maverick who he is. So, are we even surprised when he annoys Air Traffic Control by flying past their towers in his jet and buzzing them?
He’s done this several times in Top Gun too and has been caught and reprimanded for the same. But even thirty-plus years down the line, he doesn’t seem to want to give up the habit.
- The very first image of Top Gun: Maverick is the lightning bolt logo of Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films. This was to pay homage to the company that had been the major producer of Top Gun.
- The whole pub scene of the pilots messing around with Maverick without knowing he’s their instructor is a call back to when Maverick and Goose did the same a night before their training commenced.
- The term ‘hard deck’ is thrown around a lot in Top Gun: Maverick. This is because the pilots have to learn how to fly below the hard deck in order to avoid getting caught on the enemy radar. Ironically, in Top Gun, Maverick used to get into trouble for flying below the hard deck as it technically is a rule break.
- Top Gun had avoided mentioning their “enemies” and simply referred to them as MiGs. The sequel continues the tradition, by not mentioning the enemy country, location, or organization they’re dealing with.
- When Top Gun: Maverick ends with special credits for its main characters, it retains calling Val Kilmer just “Ice” instead of “Iceman,” akin to the original movie’s credits.
10. 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.