“Top Gun: Maverick” is already being hailed as the ultimate summer blockbuster of 2022 (and, to some critics, perhaps of all time), but the all-American sequel has a few glaring omissions: any of the female leads from the 1986 original.
“Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around,” director Joseph Kosinski told Insider. “I didn’t want every storyline to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters.”
“Top Gun: Maverick” follows Tom Cruise’s iconic naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who is now training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates, including late best friend Goose’s son Lt. Bradley Bradshaw, (Miles Teller) aka Rooster, for a dangerous mission. The sequel is set 30 years after the original and premieres at Cannes before soaring into theaters May 27.
And while new character Rooster is the emotional crux of “Maverick,” the storyline does inherently involve Goose’s wife, played by Meg Ryan, the mother (hen?) of Rooster. Yet Ryan, along with Cruise’s onscreen love interest Kelly McGillis, are both not in the film. (Ryan’s character, however, is seen in flashbacks to the original film.)
McGillis previously told Entertainment Tonight in 2019 that she was not approached for the role in part due to her appearance.
“I’m old, and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is,” McGillis said. “And that is not what that whole scene is about.”
Instead, Maverick pursues former fling Penny Benjamin, played by Jennifer Connelly. The character Penny is only referred to as “the Admiral’s daughter” in the first film.
“Penny Benjamin, a character we have heard mentioned but never seen before, that was an amazing opportunity to bring Jennifer Connelly’s character into this film,” Kosinski continued to Insider. For the sequel, Penny is a single mother who owns a bar near the flight school Maverick teaches at.
However, original star Val Kilmer does reprise his role of “Iceman” Kazansky. The “Top Gun: Maverick” cast also includes fresh franchise faces Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, and Monica Barbaro. Offscreen, Lady Gaga joins the “Top Gun” universe with new ballad “Hold My Hand.” The Oscar winner also contributed to the score with Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, and Harold Faltermeyer.