5 Top Gun legacy moments that resonate in Top Gun: Maverick

A Cineworld Top Gun double bill is ready to see out your summer. Both Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick are being paired for the ultimate aerial blockbuster experience.

The legacy of the original Top Gun is deeply bedded within Top Gun: Maverick, which currently stands as this year's highest-grossing movie.

Therefore, we've rounded up some of the emotional and fist-pumping legacy moments that connect the two movies. 


1. 'Danger Zone'

The original Top Gun used Kenny Loggins' thunderous power anthem no less than three times. Top Gun: Maverick doesn't need to be that gratuitous, instead invoking the head-banging tune subtly (well, relatively speaking) during the opening jets-'n-sunsets montage.

Loggins did, in fact, aim to record a new version of his signature tune but it didn't come to pass. No matter – the mere echo of the song is enough to have us donning the Aviators and growing our hair out. Instead, pride of place goes to Lady Gaga whose 'Hold My Hand' concludes the movie in rousing style.


2. 'Great Balls of Fire'

One of Top Gun: Maverick's most affecting scenes occurs at ground level with the eponymous Maverick staring through a window. He's gazing at Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's late wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards) whose death in the original Top Gun wrenched the hearts of an entire generation.

Maverick may be an outsized character built to refract Cruise's screen persona, but the Top Gun sequel locates grace notes of regret and subtlety. (That is when it isn't dealing with massive, roaring jets.) As Maverick steadily, sadly watches Rooster bang out 'Great Balls of Fire' on the piano, he's painfully reminded of his former friend's legacy.

The ongoing tension between Maverick and Rooster bolsters the movie's emotional impact and further invests us during the hair-raising, life-or-death finale.


3. Penny

The character of Penny was briefly invoked in the original Top Gun movie. She was mentioned as an ex-flame of Maverick's and there was a suggestion, the merest of suggestions, that she may have captured his heart.

Top Gun: Maverick builds on this apparently throwaway moment by gifting the character to the great Jennifer Connelly. She invests a potentially disposable love interest role with plenty of soul and flirtatious spark, picking up with Maverick and keeping his feet on the ground even while his head's in the clouds.


4. Iceman's legacy

It says something about Top Gun: Maverick that many of its greatest scenes don't involve Naval hardware at all. We were all curious about the much-vaunted return of Maverick's rival-turned-wingman Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky, played, as before, by Val Kilmer, our interest further stoked by the trailer shot of the character in his Admiral's uniform.

It was evident from the trailer that Kazansky had elevated himself beyond the relatively rudderless Maverick. Even so, we couldn't have anticipated the gracious and understated way in which director Joseph Kosinski tactfully grappled with Kilmer's real-life cancer diagnosis, sensitively building it into the fabric of the scene where Kazansky and Maverick meet again.

Somewhat refreshingly, Top Gun: Maverick doesn't feel the need to punctuate its explicitly emotional moments with snark or punchlines. The history of the characters is allowed to hang in the air in all its near-mythological glory, earning our tears and our affection.


5. The F-14 Tomcat

This being a Top Gun movie, the tech and the artillery are equally prominent characters in the drama. Hands up, who felt their heart in their mouth during the extended and astonishingly well-shot climactic assault on the uranium facility?

The sequence takes Cruise's penchant for in-camera stuntwork to the extreme, refusing to break the spell with poor CGI and instead placing the actors at the heart of the drama. In combination with Kosinski and cinematographer Claudio Miranda's IMAX-camera-lensed cinematography, it's a thrilling feast for the senses.

The moment where a stranded Maverick and Rooster must escape the warzone in a commandeered F-14 Tomcat is not only suspenseful. It's also funny and gratifying for the long-time Top Gun fans, wheeling out Maverick's old fighter for the climactic coup-de-grace pursuit back to the Naval carrier. It's the perfect way to put a classic piece of Top Gun iconography front and centre.


Has this got you primed for a return to the skies? Then book your Cineworld tickets for the Top Gun/Top Gun: Maverick double bill.

The two movies are playing together at Cineworld on August 26th and 28th.