Top Gun Maverick what happened to Charlie

The trailers have arrived, the world premier has lit up the red carpet and the whole world feels the need for speed ahead of the release, but old school fans might be wondering what happened to Charlie in Top Gun Maverick. Played by Kelly McGillis in the first film, the character was one of the 80s’ classic power women in film, so what happened to her between then and now?

Top Gun Maverick what happened to Charlie

Firstly, the character isn’t featured in the trailer and we can confirm that the actress isn’t in the cast for the 2nd film either. If that isn’t enough, Pete has now got a new romance brewing in Maverick, which has got the unenviable challenge of stacking up to the Cruise-McGillis “big pash” of yore.

The story for the sequel sees Maverick returning to flight school at Miramar, where he has been given the job of lead instructor, so he’s pretty much a replacement for Charlie. He then has to teach a new crop of cadets, who are reputed to be the best of the best, while also wrestling with the demons of the past.

Does Charlie feature at all in Top Gun Maverick?

We’re trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible, while still answering the question. The short answer is that there are a large number of reviews out for Top Gun Maverick, following the premier, and these have given us a window into the plot of the film without giving away all of the details.

A number of these reviews have confirmed that Charlie doesn’t even get a name check in the film, so you’re going to get all the way to the end without even the slightest reference to the steamiest relationship of the 1980s. That’s definitely going to disappoint some of the fans of the original, but the reviews for the sequel have been very positive, so you should be able to get over it.

To compensate for this a little, the film does throw in a little romance for Pete and the production has cast Jennifer Connelly as his new onscreen flame. The Labyrinth, The Rocketeer and Dark City actress is another big name from the 1980s and 90s, but the focus of the film will still be the flying and life lessons for Mav.

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What the casting says about Top Gun Maverick

There are obviously a lot of questions about the casting in terms of what it says about Top Gun Maverick, the production behind it and the industry as a whole. Some of the reviews, for example, talk about the implications of not bringing back a female actress unless they look Hollywood.

However, there’s no way a Top Gun sequel featuring Pete and Charlie happily still together would fly, because it doesn’t fit well with the characters we left behind all those years ago. As a result, you’re left with some kind of break up, which would have been very muddy for the plot of the sequel to try to deal with on top of everything else, so it’s just easier to bypass it entirely. It seems more likely that there is no Charlie, because it would have made the plot for 2 far too messy.

Equally, it seems a little unfair on Kelly McGillis to propose that she’s not back because of the way she looks. Everyone in Tinseltown has had bad paparazzi shots taken of them. There are plenty of counterargument pics of her too. For us, a sequel featuring Charlie would have been less effective in the style and narrative direction of Top Gun, so to avoid it clouding this the subject isn’t discussed.

Clearly, the fling had its day in the sun, but Pete had too much baggage to make it work, so moved on. It would have been years ago and we’ve all had short-lived relationships that we just don’t think about any more, let alone discuss in public, because life moves on.

You can also add in the fact that Meg Ryan hasn’t been cast in the film either, which would have drawn attention away from other aspects of the story. In addition to plot direction and character development, there’s also the money side of things where big names might have demands that the production just doesn’t want to contemplate.

Instead, it’s more likely a classic case of trying to sensationalize something for a bigger picture commentary and its this that is the most important. Films like Nomadland have pushed the boundaries of storytelling and there definitely needs to be more like it, but we’re just not sure Top Gun Maverick would have been the right battle ground.

The hindsight impact on Top Gun

The lack of specific references to Charlie in Top Gun Maverick does mean that we’re going to start to look back on the original film a little differently. Knowing that Pete’s relationship with her came to nothing means that it will feel slightly lessened in hindsight.

We’ve already talked about him returning to Miramar after years away in the sequel, but not mentioning her. Although, we could speculate that he probably had a little internal moment about it, but then just got back to being self absorbed and wracked with guilt.

In all fairness, the relationship with Charlie was never the most deep and meaningful connection in the first place, so maybe it just reinforces the steam and returns the focus to the story of Pete and his struggle with himself. Either way, it looks like 2 is going to be another big hit when it comes out on the big screen later in May.

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