Bad news for Top Gun fans: the release of the sequel Top Gun: Maverick has been pushed from its scheduled date by a year and will be out only on July 26, 2020.

The sequel will explore drone technology and the advancements in aerial warfare after the end of the era of dog-fighting (close-range battle between aircraft), which was explored in Tony Scott’s 1986 blockbuster Top Gun.

In the sequel, directed by Joseph Kosinski, Tom Cruise reprises his role of Pete Mitchell, nicknamed Maverick. In Top Gun, Maverick is a daredevil but disobedient fighter pilot. In the new movie, Maverick is a flight instructor who takes Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his deceased friend Nick Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), under his wing.

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Val Kilmer will return as Tom Kazansky. Nicknamed Iceman because of his ability to stay composed during tense situations, Iceman is Maverick’s biggest rival in Top Gun. By the end of the movie, the two pilots are in the throes of a bromance.

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The wingman scene, Top Gun (1986).

Some commentators have read homoerotic undertones in Top Gun, which is heaving with chiselled young men, gruff older instructors and many instances of borderline camp machismo. The idea was cemented by a rant by Quentin Tarantino in the 1994 film Sleep With Me.

Sid (Tarantino) tells Joseph (Eric Stoltz) that Top Gun is not about fighter planes but about “a man struggling with his own homosexuality.” Iceman and his equally fastidious co-pilot frequently urge Maverick to cool off, which, according to Sid, is a hint to Maverick to “come the gay way.”

Scenes of bare-bodied men in the locker room or playing beach volleyball don’t look the same anymore after Sid’s rant. Nor do such lines as “I want somebody’s butt, I want it now” or “I want to bust your ass but I can’t.”.

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Quentin Tarantino on Top Gun, Sleep With Me (1994).

Top Gun has inspired numerous parodies and sketches. One of the earliest jabs was taken by MAD magazine in its film review Top Gunk, published in issue 267 in December 1986. The comic targets the glorification of military aggression in the film and the screenplay’s contrivances and gimmicks.

The cardinal rule for surviving at the Top Gunk academy, according to MAD: “Smile 90% of the time and hold back tears the other 10%, have a close friend who gets killed, never appear on screen without being sweaty, meet an old buddy of your dad’s who ‘really loved him’, and be afraid to make an emotional commitment to a woman.”

MAD Magazine, Issue 267, published in December 1986. Courtesy DC Comics.
MAD Magazine, Issue 267, published in December 1986. Courtesy DC Comics.

In Jim Abrahams’s parody Hot Shots!, Charlie Sheen plays Topper Harley, an ace fighter pilot who nearly gets a heart attack whenever his father is mentioned. In Top Gun, Maverick is haunted by memories of his father, who was also a fighter pilot and died in battle.

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Topper Harley meets the shrink, Hot Shots! (1991).

Top Gun has been satirised several times on the American comedy show Saturday Night Live. In a sketch from 1986, Robert Downey Jr and Nora Dunn review Top Gun: “First there was Peter Gunn, then Shogun, then Top Gun. He [Tom Cruise] literally reached inside and pulled a rainbow of emotion out of my guts.”

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Top Gun review, Saturday Night Live.

Then there is the sketch in which Hollywood actors come together for “never-before-seen screen tests” for Top Gun.

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Top Gun auditions, Saturday Night Live.

The best Saturday Night Live sketch on Top Gun is Iceman: The Later Years. Here, an aged and balding Iceman (Val Kilmer) has long quit the Top Gun academy and is now flying a commercial airplane.

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Iceman: The Later Years, Saturday Night Live.

In an episode from the animated series Archer, the addicted superspy Sterling Archer gets high and imagines himself to be Maverick, saving America while Highway to the Dangerzone plays in the background.

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Highway to the Dangerzone, Archer.

A similar scene of Peter Griffin imaging himself in scenes of Top Gun-level bravado can be found in a Family Guy episode.

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Peter Griffin does a Maverick, Family Guy.

In an episode from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, playboy Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) arrives at the doorstep of his friend Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) playing Highway to the Dangerzone on a stereo and wearing Aviators and a flight suit. “You are going as my wingman, flight suit up,” Barney announces to Ted.

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Barney needs a wingman, How I Met Your Mother.

The list of films and television series with nods to Top Gun, as listed by the Internet Movie Database, has over 550 titles. This includes the Ajay Devgn-starrer action film Platform (1993), in which the Bollywood star makes a stylish entry wearing a cap with the Top Gun logo. He then beats up some baddies.

Ajay Devgn in Platform (1993). Courtesy Prince & Prince International.
Ajay Devgn in Platform (1993). Courtesy Prince & Prince International.