While “Top Gun: Maverick” retreads some ground from the original 1986 “Top Gun,” director Joseph Kosinski chose to depart from franchise tradition when it came to the sport that Tom Cruise and company play on the beach in the 2022 legacy sequel.
One of the most famous — or infamous — scenes in the first “Top Gun” is the homoerotic beach volleyball scene, where the camera fixates on shirtless men as they glisten with sweat and the Kenny Loggins song “Playing with the Boys” enlivens the soundtrack. In his DVD/Blu-Ray commentary, director Tony Scott himself once likened this scene to “soft porn,” and it reportedly got him in trouble with studio executives, who were upset that he took a whole day to film a scene that was only one paragraph in the script.
For “Top Gun: Maverick,” Kosinski had some big beach sandals to fill, bur rather than rehash old volleyball glories, he decided to go a different direction and have Cruise’s character and his co-ed team of off-duty pilots bond over a game of “dog fight football,” as he terms it. Kosinski told The Hollywood Reporter:
“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 [to] see in the third act.”