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To give Top Gun: Maverick's new love interest more of a role than Charlie, the sequel should see Maverick choose between her and flying.
Top Gun: Maverick sees its titular character gain a new love interest played by Jennifer Connelly, but one fan theory thinks this new arrival will want him to end his high-flying ways once and for all. When it was released in 1986, the action-packed military drama Top Gun was not without its critical detractors. A huge hit at the box office, it also massively increased the recruitment numbers of the real-life Navy and Air Force the year after its release.
That said, not everyone was enamored with the story of Maverick and his “Need for speed.” The movie’s overuse of creative license in its depictions of the military, with Top Gun inventing pilot rankings and trophies, earned scorn from some who claimed the movie glamorized warfare. Meanwhile, the romantic subplot was viewed by many reviewers as an unnecessary addition that slowed down the otherwise mile-a-minute pace of Top Gun.
Maverick and his love interest Charlie (Kelly McGillis) had some chemistry, but it was hard to argue with critics who claimed their love story didn’t have a place in the story when, in the original cut, the subplot didn’t exist at all. After test audiences were annoyed by the lack of a romantic storyline in the movie’s tale of Maverick learning to be a more responsible flyer, Top Gun’s reshoots added a regrettable sex scene between the pair and a few clumsy attempts to beef up Charlie’s part. However, in the finished film, the character could still be excised without the plot losing any pivotal story beats, something the upcoming sequel Maverick will need to avoid. To this end, some fans have theorized that Maverick’s new love interest in the long-awaited sequel will want the antihero to stop flying, a conflict that could give her character purpose and provide Maverick with a compelling reason to drop his most famous, character-defining pursuit.
Retirement Gives Maverick An Internal Conflict
From what viewers know of the character from the original Top Gun, Maverick is unlikely to want to retire (despite his advancing years) when the action of the sequel picks up. In reality, few test pilots stay in that role so late in their careers, and making Maverick a mentor to recruits could give the franchise a new lease of life as Cruise ages out of risky stunt work. However, Maverick is prone to burning himself out and is famous for risking his life (and the lives of his colleagues) numerous times throughout Top Gun’s story, so suddenly making the character a desk-bound office worker would be a bizarre switch. However, giving Maverick a love interest who wants him to settle down as he enters old age makes sense and could give him an impetus to look back on his life and choices.
It is already clear from the details fans know about Maverick's story that the sequel will see the titular character do some soul searching. Working with Goose’s son, Miles Teller’s Rooster, will make the death of his friend and the role he played in the accident harder for Cruise’s character, and a love interest who tells him it could be time to hang up his wings may be the push he needs to leave the front line. The most impelling conflict in the original was not between the heroes and enemy combatants but rather between Maverick and his ego, and the same could be true for Top Gun: Maverick if the sequel makes him choose between love or his lifelong obsession with being the best.
Top Gun’s Charlie Had No Role In The Plot
One of the most prominent criticisms of Top Gun was that Charlie’s romantic role could be cut without having a major effect on the story. This was why Top Gun: Maverick was right to cut Charlie, as bringing back Maverick’s love interest would have only underlined how little a role she played in the original. However, with Jennifer Connelly cast as Maverick’s new beau, it is clear the sequel still wants to give Maverick a romantic storyline, and this subplot could be far more compelling if the character has a part to play in the sequel’s central conflict. A love interest who pushes Maverick to change (perhaps with an ultimatum that leaves him deciding between their relationship or continuing to work as a test pilot) would be a fuller, more rounded character with an active role in the story, which is exactly what Maverick needs after the original movie’s missteps.
This Theory Pits Maverick’s Love Interest Against Iceman
Jerry Bruckheimer’s thoughtful response to Tarantino’s famous Top Gun theory proves there’s some truth to the tired joke that Iceman is Maverick’s real love interest - even though it is only one of many ways the movie can be read. The reading comes from viewers noting the pair share a classic “enemies to lovers” (or canonically at least, fire-forged friends) dynamic, and Iceman is Maverick’s closest friend by the end of Top Gun. This is further proven by the fact Kilmer’s character is confirmed to return in Maverick, and putting him and Cruise’s love interest at odds would give Iceman’s presence a purpose beyond the nostalgia factor. Iceman’s role in the sequel means he, too, could be still working as a test pilot, and his defense of his and Maverick’s chosen career path could provide even more tension and dramatic potential (certainly more than killing off Iceman would at least).
Why The Theory Might Not Be True
While this plot has a lot of dramatic promise, it also could be hard for Top Gun: Maverick to establish how anyone would fall for Maverick in the first place without coming to terms with his infamous need for speed. It is possible, but the idea that Jennifer Connelly’s character would not know what she was getting herself in for stretches credulity somewhat. As a result, there is a chance the pilot's new love interest will not want him to drop his character-defining trait, and that Top Gun: Maverick will need to find some compelling growth for the antihero elsewhere.
More: Why Top Gun’s Sex Scene Is So Bad
- Top Gun: Maverick/Top Gun 2 (2021)Release date: Nov 19, 2021
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About The Author
(760 Articles Published)
Cathal Gunning has been writing about movies and TV online since 2020. His obsessions include The Simpsons, Stephen King, the Scream series, and the horror genre in general. He has spent more time thinking about Stranger Things than the writers of Stranger Things, and he has never seen a Star War.
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