Top Gun: Maverick was a home run the moment the movie was out of production and entered the theatres. There were little expectations of the sequel losing to its predecessor’s success and glory. With a star-studded cast, a strong plot, and a formidable stunt sequence, the movie is already being hailed as a masterpiece.
Tom Cruise’s return as the fearless Maverick is not the only call back from the original Tony Scott classic. The iconic beach volleyball scene is invoked in Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick but not all of it is the same. The story has changed with time, and even though the beach remains a constant, the boys have now replaced volleyball with football in competing against each other.
The Iconic Beach Volleyball Scene
Those who know Top Gun by reputation already are aware of the classic status of the film. The movie has garnered appreciation over the years and for reasons that go beyond the obvious, i.e. patriotic and daring naval officers taking down an enemy of the state using fighter jets. The labor and creativity that went behind the making of the film when it came out in 1986 are worthy of recognition.
Tony Scott devoted an extraordinary amount of time to perfecting each shot of the jets flying and swooping overhead. Weeks of shooting resulted in an accumulation of enough footage to compile them to look like a perfectly coordinated stunt sequence before the final cut of the film even started to make sense.
However, what was not known to the viewers at the time was how Scott spent an entire day shooting a simple volleyball scene at the beach. The whole narrative was played out in real-time with the actors and crew keeping score. It was both a bonding session for the cast as well as an authentic take on the reality of a competitive sport.
What made the scene iconic however was that at the time of Reagan’s conservative America, the scene represented more than what meets the eye. It gained a cult status among the LGBTQ+ community, and the scene that was otherwise meant as eye candy became a symbol for the gay community globally.
Why Did Kosinski Replace Volleyball With Football in Top Gun: Maverick?
Top Gun: Maverick has brought a lot of new ideas and concepts into the mix but the movie is still the same at its core. It is still about friendship, teamwork, love, and sacrifices. Tom Cruise returns as a seasoned Maverick coaching young pilots in training and in one of his coaching sessions, he pits his trainees against each other in a match of football.
Although a call back to the volleyball scene, Kosinski did not want to add the sequence to Top Gun: Maverick just for its popularity. With its coordinated offense and defense strategy-based match, the game served as a foreshadowing of the third act of the film. Joseph Kosinski in reference to the scene had this to say:
When I was prepping the movie, it was the thing that I got asked most about — is there going to be a volleyball scene? — which kind of surprised me. So the challenge was, if we’re going to do a beach scene, we got to work it into the narrative of our story. We’re not just going to do one to do it. Our screenwriting team figured out a smart way to integrate that scene into Maverick’s training. There is a reason — this notion of dog fight football offense and defense at the same time is a nice foreshadowing of what we’re going see in the third act.
Once it was clear that we were able to push the story forward and continue the narrative, then it was a matter of just having fun and being able to shoot a beach scene for Top Gun and just making the best version of it that I could. Obviously got to give a lot of credit to our cast who worked very hard to prepare themselves for that scene.
Of course, the moment is iconic in itself. However, not even Miles teller doing his celebratory dance can bring back the greatness that was Maverick, Goose, Iceman, and Slider on the suntanned beach in jeans and shirtless.