Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Hidden subtext of the film TopGun. The inner monologue of Mavericks homosexuality.

This post is about discussing the subtext in the 1985 film 'TopGun', ostensibly a priapic action film about  cream of the crop air force pilots at a training school and their competitiveness for the top spot position and glory. The 'film within a film' is , i believe, about a man coming to terms with his homosexuality (or bisexuality), and in the end finding personal resolution.

The three main characters represent different facets of Mavericks internal monologue about his homosexuality.
Goose, Mavericks best friend . With his mustache  and camp name
 Goose could pass for gay himself. However he is a family man , and represents heterosexuality. Goose sits on Mavericks shoulder throughout the film as a physical representation of Mavericks self doubt about his homosexuality.

The ICEMAN. Iceman often is nearly always seen with the muscle bound Slider. Handsome and with his blonde highlights and slightly camp  European manner Iceman is always popping up to tempt Maverick. Iceman represents homosexuality.

Charlie: Charlie dresses more and more like Iceman as the film goes by. She represents heterosexual love. Maverick picks a woman , out of all the women in the bar, who most looks like a man, most looks like Iceman.

In this series of screengrabs, we see the lead female character, whose name incidentally is 'Charlie' (a male sounding name)( played by Kelly Mcgillis) transformation from a very feminine looking wardrobe to a very masculine looking outfit, in which her long blonde hair is hidden under a cap.

It is also worth noting, the visual similarity between Iceman and Charlie, both blonde, both high cheekbones, they could be twins.

Publicity shot from the film shows McGillis in her Iceman outfit.

 Innuendo in the script of Top Gun.
Apologies for the rough and ready screengrabs, i am working on an older laptop at the moment. I shall edit it all down and add more concrete summations. I initially wanted to edit the film itself to highlight scenes, however its not possible at the mo'


 In the briefing room as Maverick and Goose spend their first day at TopGun, we can see a few of the men have their arms around each other in the darkness, as Hollywood and Wolfman discuss how turned on they are.

It's worth noting the briefing room looks very like a cinema,the men seated like dating couples. with its big screen and arranged seating. With the social stigma against homosexuality many gay men were forced to meet up on the fringes, bath houses and cinemas were favourite places.

Here Maverick notices Iceman for the first time, note Sliders protective arm around Iceman.Goose seems less than pleased.

Maverick wants to know 'who the best is'. Is he asking who the best pilot is, or who is the best in bed?

 As Iceman plays with a phallic looking pen near his mouth, Maverick seems entranced, causing Goose to  ask 'What are you doing?'.

Commander Viper leads the briefing with a speech full of double talk, talks about: 'the tip of the spear must be sharp', tells Maverick 'Were all on the same team here' and that he 'Likes that in a pilot'.
Playing for the other team, batting for the other team are  metaphors for being gay.


After the briefing, in a local watering hole for pilots, Goose openly warns Maverick about gay sexual promiscuity. Live your life 'between your legs' is more something that might be said to a promiscuous woman..

It is worth noting none of the men, in their pilots uniforms, show any real interest in the crowd of young attractive women in the bar.

 Goose warns Maverick again about Iceman, with more double talk as Maverick gives Iceman the 'glad eye'.

Slider and 'Mother Goose' (as he is referred to by Iceman) have an argument over their respective friends; more innuendo laden dialogue.

 Iceman comes over to join Goose, Slider and Maverick, but its Maverick he shows intense interest in, reaching in to his personal space to take ice out of a drink on the bar.
Iceman asks ' You need any help? 
Maverick 'With what?'
Iceman 'You figured it out yet?'
Maverick 'What's that'?
Iceman: (pauses and smiles to himself ) ...'Whose...the best pilot?'
Iceman is asking Maverick if he has worked out if he has a sexual interest in him, this is all subtext, the words under the words.On the surface Iceman is just 'psyching out' his rival for number one status in TopGun.

More innuendo .
Slider: ''You guys slide in to Cougars spot''

Goose and Maverick make a bet on who can get 'carnal relations' tonight.
Goose: ''You have to have carnal knowledge, of a lady this time''.
Of a lady this time?, who did he have carnal knowledge of the last time they made a bet? This line is a pretty open hint that Maverick is at last bisexual.

Maverick , spots Charlie (played by Kelly McGillis), who as we have seen, resembles Iceman. It's worth noting how different she dresses in this bar to the other women. A high collar sports shirt, a jumper thrown over her shoulders, her wardrobe could almost be something Iceman might wear himself (taking in to account 80's fashions of course)
While its not unknown for women in the 80's to wear jumpers over their shoulders as fashion , in my research it was a lot more common for men to do it.Notice how Charlies outfit is very similar to what men of the time might wear.
More men with their arms around each other, the film has a lot of men in the background or on the edge of scenes with their arms around each other.

One of the many interesting positions the pilots get themselves in to during the changing room scenes. Goose gives a euphoric  'yee-haww' before he steps in to position between Wolfmans open legs.

Comic relief tower commander points the way.

 This comic relief air tower commander   gives the game away to those who spot the movies hidden theme.
He rants away : '' I want someones butt'', then as he crashes in to a young waiter ' I want some butts'.
Maverick and Goose of course have 'backs to the wall'.


Mav, Goose, Slider and Iceman relax playing volleyball. Notice Goose keeps his shirt on, whereas Slider, Iceman and Maverick take theirs off to 'play with the boys' as the music plays. When Maverick leaves to go look for his heterosexuality/goes to meet Charlie (remember the subtext is that the film  is a representation of his inner monologue) he puts on his shirt again.We can think the shirt represents this, a visual clue that he is 'putting back on his heterosexual cover'.

I watched the documentary 'The making of 'TopGun' and found out part of the soundtrack was written by musician Kenny Loggins. Specifically he wrote the theme for the famous volleyball sequence. The lyrics are laden with innuendo and when placed alongside the gay subtext add more evidence that there was a hidden plot in the movie TopGun, separate from its 'fighter pilots battling for topgun status' .Loggins mentions in the 'making of' that he worked closely with the films producer meaning he was probably 'let in' on the secondary plot , which explains the lyrics.
( watch from about 6:40 minutes).

Copy of the lyrics.

The relationship between Maverick and Charlie :'Frustration'.
 It has to be hard being a female civilian worker on a nearly all male airforce base, the amount of unwanted sexual attention must be never ending. So it would be all the more puzzling for Charlie when a handsome young lieutenant goes out of his way to chat her up, only to leave her hot and cold. In this section we shall address the unusually non physical relationship between Maverick and Charlie.

 Forced in to a corner by Goose to pick a woman to have carnel relations with Mav picks the Iceman look-a-like Charlie and serenades her with a song. Most women might be a bit flattered by a handsome young officer going out of his way to get her attention, but Charlie seems suspicious.

Mav doesn't give up and follows her in to the ladies room, entering with a smile and a camp hand on his waist. No wonder Charlie is a bit puzzled, does she really want to be a pawn in the game of a guy who has not figured out who he is yet. The fan behind Maverick blows cold air on his 'hot' conversation.

But he is persistent, so she gives him a chance. And what does he do before this big date (remember he has chased his woman throughout the first half of his film) he plays basketball with a group of shirtless guys, right up until the wire.Turning up at her house late requesting a shower, because he stinks. Charlie is confused, this is supposed to be a romantic dinner!, he is not asking to take a shower with her  , he wants to use her house, just like he wants to use her. Does she want to be this guys beard?

They share a romantic dinner, with the ocean crashing in the background, but Mav just wants to talk about his daddy issues while Charlie sits waiting for him to make his move. No wonder when he leaves she looks sexually frustrated.  He pesters her for a date, then she finally gives him one, he turns up late , stinking, and leaves without making one move!.What's a girl to do to get some action?
Look at the chair pillow Maverick sits on, pink with tassels. Charlie lays out like shes in a psychologists office, Mav sitting up playing the role of the shrink, showing both their confusion .But its an ironic reversal,   like the pillow she hugs is a reversal of the pink one Mav sits on. She wants the hetero Pillow/Mav, but she 'aint getting it!

Charlie tries to give Mav what she thinks he wants, he likes guys?, ok, she can give him the closest thing to a guy experience. Pilots jacket, white t shirt, hair under a cap, jeans, and initially Maverick seems delighted.What do you do after 'playing with the boys'?, you have a shower, has Mav been playing with the boys again?

She expresses reservations about getting involved with him, Mav stops the lift, leans in for a kiss , her face lifts, her eyes close slightly, after all this backwards and forwarding Charlie is ready for fireworks!and...nothing. He leaves again.No wonder Charlie is pissed off.

Briefing room part2- 'Frustration'.
 A clearly upset Charlie gives a breakdown of Mavericks  romantic performance so far, telling him 
'The encounter was a victory but i think it shows what not to do' and 'You never got a clean shot'.

Even Commander Viper tells him 'You could extend and made a bad choice'

Maverick is torn between guys and dolls right now.The leg up on the bar pointed toward Iceman might suggest which way he will swing.

Look at Goose and Iceman, each character 'sits' on either side of Mavericks shoulder, a visual indication of his divided thoughts.

Its worth noting that Charlies clear lensed, academic looking glasses mirror Iceman's shades in this scene. Is Charlies glasses a visual clue she is now clearer about Mavericks sexuality and angry she was played? 


Charlie literally ends up chasing Maverick all over the city, the roles are reversed from earlier in the film.Is being with a  beautiful young woman such a nightmare for old Mav?

Finally Charlie gets a love scene (Took long enough,remember Mav has chased her pretty heavily in the first half of this film serenading her with songs, pestering her for a date, perving on her in class).
But of course its all in silhouette , with lots of close up tongue kissing in the dark its hard to tell if Mav is kissing Charlie or Iceman. You have to feel sorry for Charlie here, all this effort on her part, they finally get together and he turns the light off!! Is he so disturbed by her body, or does he just want to pretend its Iceman?

Charlie finally gets her end away to the soundtrack of Berlins 'Take my breath away'. I highlighted the interesting lyrics. 'As you turn around, and say 'take my breath away'. Take my breath away is a metaphor for the sexual act, 'give me an orgasm'. Who turns around so their back is to their lover and says 'give me an orgasm'?

   There is more subtext in the song , but those lines were the most obvious and interesting.


More antics in the shower room. After sleeping with Charlie Mav gets a lecture from a shirtless Iceman asking him 'Whose side are you on?', and telling him he is 'Dangerous and foolish'. Foolish for using Charlie or foolish for sleeping with her and men on the side?
Mav does a very slow walk to Goose, then sticks his ass out at Iceman as he gets the lecture.
Bonus points go to the conversation in the background from our old friends Hollywood and Wolfman.
'Three more minutes and i'm coming in'.

Literally five minutes (count it) after having sex with Charlie, Maverick is once again conflicted telling Goose ' It was stupid and he would never do it again'. (Charlies self esteem has to be pretty low by now-thanks Mav ).
 On the board is an old fashioned English homophobic term  for gay men, 'bandit' or 'arse bandit'. Director Tony Scott was born in England in the North East.

Mav,Charlie and Goose go out for drinks. But look where Mavericks sits, he can't get far enough away from Charlie after they had sex. Goose's wife tells a tale of Mavericks sexual escapades with a 'Penny Benjamin', look at Charlies doubtful  face as she pours herself a large beer, by this point she will believe anything, except that Mav likes girls.

After sharing some deep looks again, we get some hilarious innuendo in a 'dog fight' between Iceman and Maverick for TopGun Status. In which the dialogue is all about Ice and Mav cruising the parks for men.
 Iceman:'You up for this one Maverick
Maverick: Just a walk in the park Kosanksy
Ice is the aggressor getting in first, leaving Mav to say in a camp voice ''That son of a bitch cut me off'' and critique his performance.

Ice experiences stage fright and can't 'shoot'. Goose warns 'Mav is getting impatient'
Maverick can't take the pressure, grabs his joystick and shouts 'im having a flame out'.

Fast forward a bit: Goose dies and so with him goes Mav's  heterosexual Jimmie Cricket, he leaves TopGun temporarily. Charlie leaves too putting her house up for sale (who can blame her really after all this).
Fast forward a bit more, Mav comes back for a big dog fight with some enemy pilots. Mav being in the air once more (back on the gay scene) makes on pilot say hes getting a hard on. (in edit- apologies)

We are then treated  to probably the most famous line from the film as Mav and Ice celebrate graduating and killing a bunch of dirty foreigners.
Mav of course is mindful of Iceman's tendency for stage fright so lets him know 'Bullshit, you can be my wingman'. Read Wingman as sexual partner.

Big celebration with lots of jumping men as Mav seems to have come to conclusion that he likes boys as much as girls, if not more.He certainly seems happier, issues have been resolved, the character has completed his 'arc' or journey.
Charlie comes back, wearing Icemans outfit once again, maybe she has worked out how to get Mav in to bed is always dressing like a man? The credits fade to black as Mav 'turns the lights off ' once more for sex.

This is in edit, i noticed there was a conversation between Gooses wife and Charlie, that merits further investigation.

However, even in this rough stage, i think i have put forward a credible case for the gay subtext in the film TopGun, including visual clues ,the soundtrack and script all of which are intentional clues as to Mavericks inner conflict about his attraction to men.


This post is in edit, thanks for patience.


  1. Never noticed that before, interesting take on it.

    1. Thanks, i am editing down a video to show more evidence,but the subtext of the film is fairly well known now.

  2. Interesting.

    1. Thanks, which bits did you find interesting?

  3. This is just ridiculous. You have WAY too much time on your hands.

  4. I knew this movie was marketed to Gay men and some women the first time I saw it. The bathroom scenes were creepy in a Turkish bathhouse sort of way, and Kelly McGillis' masculinity was all too apparent. I never found her hot or attractive because I thought she looked like a drag queen. The volleyball scene added little to the story. It was nothing more than red meat for the Gay men in the audience, although it appeared to be sexual gratuity for the female viewers.


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