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'Top Gun: Maverick': Reliving the iconic beach volleyball scene that defined macho in the 80s

Director Tony Scott eventually explained the rationale saying it was all eye candy, but sometimes there's more to that legendary sequence
Tom Cruise as Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in 'Top Gun' (IMDb)
Tom Cruise as Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in 'Top Gun' (IMDb)

'Top Gun' has some sequences that are spoken about to date. The flyby, the sheer chutzpah Tom Cruise bought to the table, Berlin's 'Take my Breath Away' that saw him and Kelly McGilis share one of the more passionate scenes in 80s movies, an electric introduction with Kenny Loggins' 'Danger Zone'...and the list goes on, but the one common scene in the upcoming sequel, 'Top Gun: Maverick' or at least that's one confirmed is that of the pilots playing beach volleyball. The original film featured Cruise and the cast involved in an intense game of beach volley — a scene that resonated well over 30 years.

And now it returns in 'Maverick' with Milles Teller rocking a solid ‘tache, a well-developed musculature, the signature aviators — all that define macho. The very image is timeless really. It was homoerotic then when Cruise's Pete Mitchell and his best friend Goose (Anthony Edwards) team up and play a few games against their equally eye-candy rivals, Iceman (Val Kilmer) and Slider (Rick Rossovich). Barring Goose, everyone else is shirtless, sweaty, pumped up, and cheered by a bunch of shirtless men. It's all macho, as Loggins' 'Playing with the Boys' blares in the background.


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To be honest, there was no real necessity to have the beach volleyball scene. The plotline was supposed to be Cruise's character heading off for a lunch date with Charlie (McGillis) at her place, and as a result of the intense skirmish, he arrives rather late and is denied a shower. Perhaps, the whole idea was to showcase a side of Mitchell that would not back down from a challenge — even if it mean being late to a prior made commitment. If anything, the scene was pure sight for sore eyes. Director Tony Scott eventually explained the rationale saying it was all eye candy, but sometimes it feels there's more to that sequence that made it rather legendary.

The 80s was a time when Hollywood was discovering itself better. The idea of actors was to be chiseled greek gods who would eventually stun and inspire the audience. They would be a clear distinction between the stars and the normal person. Add to this the concept of the male gaze. Shows based around the time frame, 'Stranger Things' and most recently, Jessica Biel and Pablo Schreiber's 'Candy' had the whole toned muscles, strong and bare-chested men thing going. So what the series did s spawn a string of movies and series that actually used swashbuckling machoism' as a key factor.

In the new film, it was incorporated to showcase the hard yards the cast had put in at the gym. And a way to include a team-building scene. Director Joseph Kosinski explained that it wasn't exactly a throwback to the classic. "We didn’t want to be the cover band version of Top Gun. So our talented screenwriters figured out a way that that scene actually has a story to it," he explained.

"You’ll see it has a very specific point that Maverick is making that scene happen. But the scene itself, I almost feel like Glen’s almost better to talk it out because for the actors this was the Super Bowl of, you know, shirtless scenes. The amount of hard work you had to put in ahead of time, and when the day came, you know just as an aside, I originally conceived it as shirts vs. skins, so when we got to the beach that day I was kind of dividing it up, and very quickly found out that no one (was) looking to keep their shirt on. They were like, ‘No way, I worked too hard.’"