Top Gun: Maverick 2022 fails to fly the flag on LGBT+ representation

“Installation bearing the image of “Top Gun: Maverick” on the Croisette in Cannes” (2022)ManoSolo13241324 / Wikimedia Commons

In a summer marked by turbulent political and social upheaval, scorching heat waves and, for many students like me, nerve-shredding exams and coursework deadlines, who doesn’t want to sit in the cockpit of a plane with Tom Cruise as he perilously flies through mountains, and performs incredible feats of flight-related acrobatics? All tied together with a bow of synth stings, Jon Hamm doing his best ‘angry-military-higher-up’ impression, and gorgeous cinematography? Top Gun: Maverickin these aspects, is certainly worth the price of admission.

I myself was rather cynical before going in to see this long-anticipated sequel; being a fan of the original, I felt like the franchise was too married to its 80s’ roots to be properly adapted into a new, shining 21st century mould. From the very first scene, which is itself a direct nostalgic nod to the opening of the original, I was on-board; however, the film’s at-times overbearing relationship with its predecessor, as it turns out, might be its greatest weakness.

“Indeed, there is a notable ‘laddish’ strain to the film’s approach”

The original Top Gun, in my mind, always harks back to a time of pure optimism in the backdrop of extreme global unease. Released during the latter stages of the Cold War, the film showed us the military ‘bromance’ between Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) as they high-five their way through numerous aerial training exercises in the elite Top Gun naval unit . It is a film that many hold near and dear to their hearts; not only did it advocate for pure escapism in a time during which many didn’t know what would happen next on the global stage, but it also seemed to imply a homosexual dimension to the relationship of the two titular characters. Though this is something that screenwriters have subsequently denied in recent interviews, Maverick and Goose’s rather close relationship is certainly something that has remained stuck in the consciousness of the general public (perhaps most famously illustrated by Quentin Tarantino’s monologue in Sleep With Me1994).