Why Maverick is still a captain 30 years after 'Top Gun,' according to the Navy

Entertainment

Can Old Man Maverick even play volleyball anymore?

(Paramount Pictures via YouTube)

The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.

But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?


We're clearly not the only ones curious as to why Maverick hasn't moved on to other ventures like, say, flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong. Indeed, Ed Harris' unnamed rear admiral explicitly addresses Maverick's career trajectory in the trailer.

"Thirty-plus years of service. Combat medals, citations, the only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last 40 years. Yet you can't get a promotion, you won't retire, and despite your best efforts you refuse to die," Harris scowls. "You should be at least a two-star admiral by now. Yet here you are. Captain. Why is that?"

Yes, why is that?! Luckily for Harris and everyone else who's paying close attention, the Navy has answers. Here's what Navy Personnel Command told USNI News of Maverick's circuitous return to the big screen:

The most straightforward answer to have a captain with 35-plus years of service is for the captain to have previous enlisted experience. In the case of Maverick, this scenario doesn't fit with the movie's timeline – Maverick was a lieutenant in 1986.

Another possible scenario occurs if there's a break in service. For instance, perhaps at some point after the famous incident involving MiGs of uncertain origin over the Indian Ocean, as depicted in the first "Top Gun," Maverick left active duty and did some time in the Navy Reserve. Then later, he returned to active duty. With more than five years in the reserves, Maverick could be pushing 37 years in uniform.

The final scenario for Maverick would be if he were retired but retained in service, a scenario that keeps individuals in uniform after reaching their statutory retirement. Generally speaking, cases of individuals being retired but retained are rare, but not unheard of, according to Naval Personnel Command.

So it looks like Old Man Maverick's time in the Super Hornet wasn't just a product of some silly script doctor's imagination. Then again, that's not totally surprising: Paramount Pictures consulted closely with the Navy on the how to keep the production in line with the real-world U.S. armed forces just as much as it did with the original Top Gun, according to the production agreement published by the Washington Business Journal.

Apart from using DoD property and personnel for the film, the production agreement stipulated that a senior staff officer would "review with public affairs the script's thematics and weave in key talking points relevant to the aviation community" and that the Pentagon officials would review a rough cut of the film to "confirm that the tone of the military sequences substantially conforms to the agreed script treatment."

Thanks God the producers didn't opt for a Top Gun sequel featuring Admiral Maverick: two hours of on-screen paperwork and hanging out with sketchy Malaysian shipping magnates would make for a shitty, shitty movie.

Top Gun: Maverick also stars Val Kilmer, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Ed Harris. The sequel will blast into theaters on June 26, 2020.

Read the full production agreement below:

The United States and Turkey have agreed to a temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a safe zone that Turkey is establishing along its border with Syria, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trump's recent decisions in northern Syria were ill-advised, strategically unsound, and morally shameful. In rapidly withdrawing U.S. presence and allowing a Turk offensive into Syria, we have left the Syrian Kurds behind, created a power vacuum for our adversaries to fill, and set the stage for the resurgence of ISIS.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the world's largest freshwater fish is protected by the natural equivalent of a "bulletproof vest," helping it thrive in the dangerous waters of the Amazon River basin with flexible armor-like scales able to withstand ferocious piranha attacks.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego and University of California, Berkeley on Wednesday described the unique structure and impressive properties of the dermal armor of the fish, called Arapaima gigas. They said their findings can help guide development of better body armor for people as well as applications in aerospace design.

Read More Show Less

DELAND, Florida — A military freefall parachuting team has a better reason to conquer Mount Everest than "because it's there."

The 12-member team, assembled by Complete Parachute Solutions of DeLand, will attempt a world record for the highest-elevation tactical military freefall parachute landing. But it's more than a record. It's validation.

"When CPS says we've landed our parachutes at over 20,000 feet, that means we've done it," said Johnny Rogers, the company's vice president.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less