Top Gun: Maverick is out in theatres and I must say, it was quite the experience! As a sequel, you may wonder how much the movie relies on Top Gun. The good news is that while it does have some nostalgic callbacks, you can still enjoy the movie if you haven’t seen the first one.
However, there is one important bit: We have Miles Teller player Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, son of Maverick’s late best friend, Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw.
Before we get into how this plays into Top Gun: Maverick, let’s talk about how Rooster died in the first place.
During a training session, Maverick is keen on scoring higher points in order to beat Iceman for the Top Gun trophy. This blinds him into making certain decisions that inevitably lead to the death of his best friend, Goose.
Most of us are novices when it comes to flying terminologies and maneuvers, so I’ll set up the scene lucidly: In Top Gun, Maverick has been butting heads with Iceman and will do anything to prove he is the better pilot among the two.
Iceman isn’t the first person to call out Maverick for being reckless no matter how stunning his feats are. He should’ve been paying heed to this, but alas, it is a graver incident that teaches him a lifelong lesson.
Maverick and Goose team up during the assignment of chasing an A-4 aircraft. Maverick recognizes Iceman’s tactics and forces him to abandon scoring points with the A-4 so that he can chase it himself instead.
As this is happening, his plane is forced to fly through the jet wash of Iceman’s plane. This sudden jolt of gases sets Maverick’s engines on fire and the two friends are forced to eject. While Maverick is able to get out of harm’s way, Goose is not so lucky—he hits his head on the aircraft and dies.
As we see in the sequel, his death has had a heavy impact on both Maverick and Rooster who have respectively lost a friend and a father. But it also serves as the heart of Top Gun: Maverick.
It is not surprising that Rooster is pissed with Maverick and blames him for his father’s death. The sequel shines through because it uses this clutch to really built up to that moment of catharsis—right from Rooster distrusting Maverick all the way to then saving his life and forgiving him.
When they both return to base safely, it is truly more euphoric than any other scene in 1986’s Top Gun.
In the original film, Maverick was often condemned for not thinking about his actions and or his team members. While he does learn to change his ways towards the end, the sequel is a reminder that he stuck to this path.
What with flying beyond a speed of Mach 10, Maverick still is someone who can be deemed quite reckless. Even his advice to Rooster of “Don’t think, just do,” is questionable.
But as he shepherds his team to the point of being willing to give his life for them, it’s clear that this Maverick is, in the best way possible, grounded.
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.