A lot has changed since the blockbuster movie Top Gun premiered in 1986. Here are some of the things almost certain to be different in Top Gun 2.
Ever since Tom Cruise confirmed that Top Gun 2 is “definitely happening” in an interview on an Australian TV show back in May, the internet has been buzzing with excitement regarding the sequel to the legendary movie.
While we don’t know for sure what Top Gun 2 will be about (who knows, maybe Maverick will be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog poop out of Hong Kong), we’ve got some decent guesses. Considering changes that have occurred in the military over the 30+ years that have passed since the original Top Gun was released in 1986, here’s what the sequel needs to include to be true to life.
The two most prominent female characters in the original Top Gun were Carole Bradshaw (Goose’s wife) played by Meg Ryan and Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (a civilian technician at Top Gun and Maverick’s love interest) played by Kelly McGillis. There were no female aviators in the US Navy at the time, but the situation has changed dramatically since then, and women have been flying fighters in the Navy since 1994.
Women have even commanded a Carrier Air Wing and an entire Carrier Strike Group in recent years. It’s very likely that there will be a love story incorporated into the plot of Top Gun 2, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it will involve a female aviator. And she won’t be wearing shoulder pads.
No Beach Volleyball
The beach volleyball scene pitting Maverick and Goose against Ice Man and Slider was one of the most famous (or infamous) scenes in Top Gun. At the time, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (better known as Top Gun) was located at Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar, which is right outside of San Diego. Well, NAS Miramar is now Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and is home to the 3rd Marine Air Wing and their F/A-18 Hornets, F-35B Lightnings, and MV-22 Ospreys (among other aircraft).
The Navy moved the school to NAS Fallon in northern Nevada in 1996, which interestingly enough was where many of the aerial scenes that took place over land in the original Top Gun were filmed. So, while there might be some scenes in Las Vegas or on Lake Tahoe, you probably won’t be seeing any of the characters in Top Gun 2 playing beach volleyball, since the school is now several hundred miles away from the beach.
Lots of New Planes
The original Top Gun featured the F-14 Tomcat, which was the Navy’s primary air superiority fighter in the 1980s and 1990s. The Navy retired the last F-14 in 2006 and now uses the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in that role. Now that the F-35 Lightning is finally starting to enter service, it’s very likely that we’ll see both Super Hornets and Lightnings used by the protagonists in Top Gun 2. Don’t be surprised if an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle of some type has a prominent role in the movie, either.
No More Vietnam Vets
Filmed just over a decade removed from the Vietnam War in 1986, many of the higher ranking characters in the movie are clearly Vietnam Veterans. In the movie, the old salts try to teach the young pups like Maverick some hard-earned lessons they learned in fierce aerial combat.
For instance, Commander Mike “Viper” Metcalf, the chief instructor at Top Gun, mentions to Maverick that he flew F-4s in VF-51 with Maverick’s father off the USS Oriskany. In an effort to help Maverick gain some perspective after Goose dies, he mentions that his squadron sustained heavy losses in combat over Vietnam. In real life, VF-51 was not assigned to the USS Oriskany and the carrier was not big enough to operate F-4s. That being said, the Carrier Air Wing assigned to the ship did indeed suffer the highest loss rate of any Naval Air Wing in the Vietnam War, losing half of its assigned planes, including an A-4 Skyhawk flown by then-Lieutenant Commander John McCain. Additionally, Commander Tom “Stinger” Jardian (the bald guy that’s always yelling at Maverick on the USS Enterprise) also wears a Purple Heart and a Vietnam Service ribbon on his uniform, and I’m sure he has a few stories to tell as well.
All of the Vietnam Veterans are long gone from active duty in the Navy. However, they’ve been replaced with plenty of Veterans of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve. I’m sure we’ll still see some instances of some wise old hands trying to impart some lessons they learned in combat in the skies above Iraq or Syria to the young guys in Top Gun 2.
The Bad Guys
Though nobody ever comes out and says who the bad guys are in Top Gun, the fact that they were flying (fictional) MiG fighters and have a distinctive red star on their helmets and oxygen masks indicates that they were probably Soviet pilots, but it’s also possible they were Chinese or North Koreans.
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s been over 30 years since Top Gun came out and Russia, China, and North Korea are still our main adversaries in the world. So, don’t be surprised if the guys in Top Gun 2 end up in a dog fight with planes from one of those countries.