We're talking spoilers for Top Gun: Maverick below, you're on the highway to the Spoiler Zone! It's been over three decades since the original Top Gun was released in theaters and now the highly anticipated sequel is officially here. As fans of the first movie likely remember it concludes with Tom Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell was reunited with Kelly McGillis' Charlie, presumably to ride off into the sunset on his motorcycle. When Top Gun: Maverick begins though Charlie is nowhere in sight and isn't even mentioned. As the film continues though he quickly finds a new love interest in Jennifer Connelly's Penelope "Penny" Benjamin, and there's some implied history in their fling.
Fans of the original Top Gun may recall a throwaway line of dialogue, one that exists largely to paint a picture of Maverick's semi-reckless behavior but also to confirm that, yes, he gets all the ladies. That line is when Stinger tells Maverick: "Son, your ego is writing checks your body can't cash. You've been busted, you lost your qualifications as section leader three times, put in hack twice by me, with a history of high speed passes over five air control towers, and one admiral's daughter!" This prompts the question from Goose, "Penny Benjamin?" A later tease about it occurs during the "Great Balls of Fire" scene, revealing how Maverick snuck her into a jet and "went ballistic." So yes, a pair of punchlines in the original Top Gun movie turns into a key plot point for Top Gun: Maverick.
Throughout the movie the two characters tease their past, including the many flings that they've seemingly had over the years. Speaking in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Connelly teased this on-again, off-again relationship that the film alludes to, saying: "I think that they had a few flings that didn't pan out particularly well in the years between. We talked about their backstory and what that history might have been. I really enjoyed the way Penny was written, but during the rehearsal process, there definitely were conversations about adjustments and revisions to the scenes. But the spirit of her character, from the first draft I read, was there on the page."
Top Gun: Maverick is currently playing in theaters around the world. As of this writing, Top Gun: Maverick holds a "Certified Fresh" distinction on Rotten Tomatoes along with a 97% approval rating and over 230 reviews. The critical consensus for the film reads: "Top Gun: Maverick pulls off a feat even trickier than a 4G inverted dive, delivering a long-belated sequel that surpasses its predecessor in wildly entertaining style."