Mission accomplished for Top Gun: Maverick.
The years-in-the-making sequel made almost $1.5 billion at the global box office and proved that pandemic-weary audiences' need for speed was greater than any reservations they might have about sitting in a crowded theater. And now it's nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, heading into the March 12 ceremony.
Though snubbed for his true-to-form performance as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, Tom Cruise still picked up a nomination as a producer on the film, which landed in theaters a few years behind schedule because foregoing IMAX screens and that collective lovin' feeling was not an option.
And, happily, it was worth the wait. Which is never a given when you're talking sequels to beloved classics.
It had been 36 years since the original Top Gun first took up residence in the cultural lexicon with its sleek jets, perfect soundtrack, shirtless volleyball, bar-room serenade and endlessly quotable dialogue.
The bromantic action-adventure drama made $354 million worldwide, put director Tony Scott on the map and inspired countless future fighter pilots.
Oh, and it's an Oscar winner, taking home Best Original Song for "Take My Breath Away."
But Maverick's return as a promotion-resistant flight instructor tasked with training the incoming class of Top Guns, at least one of whom is not impressed, was just the shot of adrenaline the 2022 theater schedule needed (and the Academy is hoping for).
Though you've since been treated to a whole new crop of call signs, keep scrolling to see where it all began and what the crew from 1986's Top Gun looks like now:
And meet the class of recruits who joined Cruise for his sequel mission:
(Originally published May 16, 2020, at 7 a.m. PT)