17 Times "Top Gun: Maverick" References "Top Gun"

·4 min read

Top Gun: Maverick is finally in theaters, and that calls for high fives all around.

Paramount Pictures

It's a sequel that continues the story from Top Gun, but it's more than 30 years later...so things look a little different. That said, it's still full of nostalgic callbacks to the original movie, so here they all are, just in case you're curious:

This post contains plot spoilers for both Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick.

This post contains plot spoilers for both Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick.

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1.Tom Cruise's return as Maverick, obviously

Side-by-side photos of Tom Cruise in the 1986 original and the 2022 sequel wearing a similar uniform

The helmet! The jacket! THE SUNGLASSES. It's all here, and seeing Tom Cruise reinhabit one of his most famous roles might blow your mind a little bit.

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

2.Val Kilmer's emotional return as Iceman

Side-by-side photos of Val Kilmer in the original and sequel, with a new uniform showing he's become a decorated officer

Val Kilmer only appears in one scene in Top Gun: Maverick, but Iceman has a major role in the story.

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

3.Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) didn't appear in the original movie, but she was mentioned as an ex-girlfriend of Maverick's.

An image from the original movie showing the time Penny was mentioned, side-by-side with a photo of the actual Penny in the sequel
Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

4.The movie's biggest connection to the events of the original is that Maverick is still grieving Goose (Anthony Edwards) and seems to have lingering guilt about his death.

Several photos of Maverick and Goose together in the time of the first film
Paramount Pictures

5.Both movies open in the exact same way: with a black title card describing the Top Gun school followed by a montage of Navy flight deck operations.

The title card says that in 1969, the US Navy created an elite school for the top 1% of its pilots with the goal of making them the best fighter pilots in the world

One notable difference is that the new movie's title card says "the handful of men and women." Yay!

Paramount Pictures

6.Rooster (Miles Teller) is Goose's son, who appeared in Top Gun as a baby.

A screenshot from the original film of Maverick carrying Rooster as a baby, juxtaposed with a screenshot from the sequel of Rooster as an adult

Rooster and Maverick's estranged relationship is a major plot point in the movie.

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

7.Rooster plays and sings "Great Balls of Fire," just like Goose did in the original movie.

8.It wouldn't be a Top Gun movie without "Danger Zone," so you'll be relieved to hear that this movie uses it twice.

Paramount Pictures

9.Maverick's arrival to the Top Gun facility is an exact mirror of his entrance in the original movie, complete with "Danger Zone" playing in the background.

Images from both films of Maverick riding his motorcycle onto base while a jet takes off near him
Paramount Pictures

10.Once again, Maverick bumps heads with his Top Gun supervisor. In 1986, it was Viper (Tom Skeritt); in 2022, it's Cyclone (Jon Hamm). In both cases, Maverick wins their begrudging respect by the end.

Side-by-side images of the commanding officers in the two films, both wearing similar uniforms
Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

11.Ed Harris's appearance as Rear Admiral Cain mirrors the scene in the original movie when Goose and Maverick are first sent to Top Gun despite not following orders.

Side-by-side images of two older men looking frustrated and annoyed with Maverick

It's very funny that both movies start with Maverick making a superior angry and then being rewarded by being sent to Top Gun. Look at their faces! They find him so annoying.

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

12.Hangman (Glen Powell) is pretty antagonistic toward Rooster throughout the movie, but ends up saving his life and embracing him as a teammate. This is very similar to the dynamic between Iceman and Maverick in the original.

Side-by-side images of Iceman in the original and Hangman in the sequel
Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

13.A lot of Maverick's lessons as a Top Gun instructor are reflective of his own experiences in the first movie.

A view inside the cockpit as Maverick flies his jet

For example:

— He chastises Hangman for abandoning his wingman during a training exercise, something he himself did.

— He suggests lowering the hard deck for training purposes, which is a reminder that he frequently ignored that rule as a pilot.

— He emphasizes that the pilots will have to explain any deaths to their teammates' families, which we know is what he had to do when Goose died.

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

14.The football scene in Top Gun: Maverick is a clear homage to the volleyball scene in Top Gun.

A group of men playing football on the beach
Paramount Pictures

15.During the film's climax, Maverick and Rooster escape in an F-14 Tomcat, which is the exact plane Maverick flew with Goose.

Maverick and Goose give a thumbs up from inside their plane in the original film
Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

16.Maverick rides a Kawasaki bike in this movie, just like he did in the original.

It's a new model, though.

It's a new model, though.

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

17.And finally, the tiniest of Easter eggs: When Hangman picks a song on the jukebox early in the movie, he punches numbers 8 and 6. The OG Top Gun came out in 1986.

Paramount Pictures