The Kelly McGillis Top Gun: Maverick absence is felt, but there are a couple of interesting reasons why the Charlie Top Gun character doesn’t appear. Charlie was hesitant to start a romance with Maverick considering that she was her student, but they eventually engaged in a relationship. The attraction between them was just too strong and Maverick was quite persistent in wooing her. Despite their mutual admiration, Goose’s tragic death and Charlie’s job caused their brief split but Top Gun’s ending ultimately saw them getting back together, giving the impression that the couple was in for the long haul. Audiences were surprised to find out that in Top Gun: Maverick, Mitchell has a new love interest in Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly).
Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick isn’t scared to lean on nostalgia with various callbacks to the 1986 film. That said, it doesn’t bring back many of the characters from the original Top Gun, and among the absent is Charlie. There are two reasons that explain why the Charlie Top Gun character isn’t in the sequel. According to director Joseph Kosinski, they wanted Top Gun: Maverick to look forward instead of backward, so they were meticulous in deciding which legacy characters would be back in the new blockbuster. Ultimately, instead of re-pairing Maverick with Charlie, the decision was made to properly reintroduce Penny Benjamin from Top Gun, instead. However, Charlie actress Kelly McGillis believes that there’s a different explanation for not being called back for Top Gun: Maverick: her age and looks. “I’m old, and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about,” she said in a 2019 interview. But McGillis harbors no ill-will toward Connelly, saying she’s “so glad she got that opportunity.” Here’s why the Kelly McGillis Top Gun: Maverick absence really happened.
Maverick Doesn’t Mention Charlie At All
Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t really provide any sort of explanation as to what happened to the Charlie Top Gun character. Maverick’s past is important in understanding where the character is when the film starts, but the movie doesn’t really get into specifics about what happened to him between the original Top Gun and its sequel. That includes no mention of his past relationship with Charlie, including why and when they broke up. But considering how turbulent Maverick’s TOPGUN career with the Navy has been, it’s possible that they just couldn’t make it work. Charlie was focused and career-driven, so it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that she ultimately chose her professional life and moved up the ranks at the expense of her romantic relationship with Maverick. This is ultimately why the Kelly McGillis Top Gun: Maverick absence happened.
Given the success of Top Gun: Maverick, chances are that Cruise and Paramount would be eager to continue the franchise by greenlighting Top Gun 3 if there’s a good story there. Regardless of whether or not it happens and what the story might be, at this point, it’s safe to say that the budding film series has no intentions of revisiting Maverick and Charlie’s past romance. So it’s unlikely that McGillis will be reprising her role in any of the potential Top Gun sequels — but it would be nice to one day get some closure on their story.
Charlie’s Absence Didn’t Hurt Top Gun 2
There’s plenty of nostalgia to be had in Top Gun: Maverick, and it thankfully wasn’t at the expense of a strong narrative. Bringing back Kelly McGillis’ character might’ve actually ruined that. Too often reboots fail because they rely too much on the past to bring out a proper legacy sequel. Top Gun: Maverick cleverly avoided this by ushering in well-rounded, engaging new characters to replace the old. In addition, Maverick and Charlie’s romance was probably wasn’t a happily ever after. The two had barely any foundation for a real relationship, even breaking things off once during Top Gun. Outside a few romantic moments, the pair didn’t really share that deep of a bond, and it’s more than conceivable they would eventually drift apart. Both characters had aspirations outside of one another, and that was clear even in Top Gun. Jennifer Connelly’s character was a great new addition to the Top Gun franchise, and she and Cruise shared serious chemistry. So, though it was sad that Charlie didn’t show up in Top Gun: Maverick, her character ultimately wasn’t missed.