Only a few years behind schedule, Top Gun: Maverick has landed at a theater near you.
Tom Cruise's relentless youthfulness notwithstanding, it's 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. Let's just say, we've never lost that loving feeling for the bromantic action-adventure drama, which made $354 million worldwide, put director Tony Scott on the map, and inspired countless future fighter pilots.
But finally, the years-in-development sequel to the 1986 blockbuster is out—and has already catapulted beyond $1 billion at the box office.
After first postponing Top Gun: Maverick's July 2019 release to 2020, reportedly to fine-tune the flight sequences, Paramount coolly kept the movie on ice for two more years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a debut that didn't involve IMAX screens and as many butts as possible in theaters not an option for the big-budget feature.
Cruise, of course, is back as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, one of the U.S. Navy's best (and cockiest) pilots. Unlike four-star Admiral Iceman, he's now a captain but has resisted climbing too high in rank because he just loves to fly, and it shows. Now he's the instructor tasked with training the incoming class of Top Guns, at least one of whom is not impressed.
But while you prepare to learn a whole new crop of call signs, keep scrolling to see what the crew from 1986's Top Gun looks like now:
And now meet the new class of recruits along for this years-in-the-making sequel mission:
Top Gun: Maverick is in theaters now.
(Originally published May 16, 2020, at 7 a.m. PT)