What Every New Call Sign In Maverick Means

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Tom Cruise Top Gun 2 Call Signs


It’s been 34 years since the action-drama film Top Gun first soared its way into the heart of Ronald Reagan-era American pop culture — and now its follow-up, Top Gun: Maverick, has brought back all the spectacular aerial stunts and dizzying dogfights of its predecessor. Most notably, a new generation of pilots branded with their own descriptive Top Gun 2 call signs joins in the fray. Directed by Oblivion‘s Joseph Kosinski, the sequel picks up thirty-something years later with Cruise resuming his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The film introduces a new group of rag-tag recruits who train under Maverick for a dangerous mission. One of the new pilots is new recruit Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s late best friend and co-pilot, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards).

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One of the most beloved touches of realism in the Top Gun sequel is the Top Gun 2 call signs. These code names are not chosen by the individual but are given as part of the camaraderie among recruits, who constantly face high-risk, life-or-death situations. Although call signs can be mocking, they can also denote an intrinsic part of a pilot’s identity, serving as a personal insignia branded on the pilot’s locker, helmet, and aircraft. Top Gun introduced audiences not only to the memorable call signs of “Maverick,” “Iceman,” and “Goose,” but to a whole crew of pilots with snappy monikers like “Viper,” “Cougar,” “Jester,” “Wolfman,” “Sundown,” “Slider,” and “Hollywood.” The call signs in Top Gun 2 are just as playful and indicative of their character’s personalities as in the original movie. Plus, the marketing brains at Paramount has finally given viewers a foolproof way to make their own.

Related: Why Top Gun: Maverick Was Delayed A Year


Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw

Miles Teller as Rooster in Top Gun 2

Miles Teller plays recruit Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw. Rooster’s Top Gun 2 call sign, not to mention his interesting choice of facial hair, is a playful nod to the legacy he will carry on as Goose’s son. In the original movie, Rooster’s father, who was Maverick’s best friend and Radar Intercept Officer, died from a failed ejection after a fighter jet engine flameout. Although Maverick was officially cleared from blame by a board of inquiry, Goose’s death triggered feelings of conflict in Maverick regarding his own father’s mysterious demise, leaving him to grapple with grief, guilt, and the tragic repercussions of his reckless flight maneuvers.

In Top Gun: Maverick, Rooster tells Maverick, “My dad believed in you. I’m not going to make the same mistake.” It’s safe to say there’s some obvious tension bubbling under the surface, and people can experience the complex relationship between instructor and trainee to drive much of the emotional drama in the sequel. No doubt fans of Top Gun will be hoping for reconciliation in the form of a duet to Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire.”

“Hangman”

Top Gun 2 Glen Powell

In Top Gun: Maverick, Glen Powell plays the role of “Hangman.” While initially a smaller part, the character’s screen time was beefed up by the film’s producers after Powell delivered an impressive audition for the character of Rooster, which ultimately went to Teller. Hangman is another recruit of the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School. His Top Gun 2 call sign has a nefarious ring to it, insinuating the character possesses a dangerous, take-no-prisoners attitude.

Top Gun: Maverick offers a glimpse of a shirtless Powell, standing on the beach, shouting in sweaty throes of machismo in what appears to be an American football game. Given character rumors of a new male recruit with a cocky attitude and competitive nature, people have been quick to liken Hangman to the original film’s alpha male, Iceman. The movie shows Hangman and Rooster engaging in the same testosterone-fueled rivalry that Maverick and Iceman shared in Top Gun.

Related: What Happened To Iceman Between Top Gun & Top Gun 2

“Phoenix”

Phoenix in Top Gun 2 Maverick

One of the most significant advantages of waiting 34 years for a Top Gun sequel is that women’s roles have integrally changed since the 1980s — that means this time around, female pilots are climbing into the cockpit and getting in on the fighter pilot action. Monica Barbaro plays the “whip-smart, determined” recruit with the Top Gun 2 call sign of “Phoenix.”

Phoenix is described as “a sassy extrovert” who has had to “weather and bulldoze through all of the barriers that come when you’re a young woman that wants to be a naval aviator.” Barbaro’s Top Gun 2 pilot is a tough-minded, resourceful young woman, who is not intimidated by competition in a male-dominated workplace through her character. Whether her moniker refers to a city in Arizona or alludes to the mythological bird reborn from its own ashes, Phoenix gets one of the best new call signs of the sequel.

“Payback”

An image of Jay Ellis looking serious in Top Gun 2: Maverick

The role of Reuben “Payback” Fitch is played by Jay Ellis. The character is an integral part of the plot of Top Gun: Maverick. This recruit places great emphasis on taking revenge and getting even, but he also doesn’t like to remain in anyone’s debt. His weapons systems officer (WSO) goes by the name of “Fanboy.”

“Fanboy”

Danny Ramirez as Fanboy in Top Gun: Maverick

Another mysterious recruit, Fanboy, is played by Danny Ramirez. The character has an “encyclopedic memory,” and acts as Payback’s WSO. Before the movie came out, people were given an initial clue in the Top Gun: Maverick trailer. Living up to his moniker, the call sign “Fanboy” written on his helmet uses the same font used in the Star Trek franchise, a clever nod to his devotion as a serious fan that also doubles as a promotion for another one of Paramount’s popular franchises.

Related: Why Top Gun: Maverick Reviews Are So Positive

“Bob”

Lewis Pullman climbing a ladder in Top Gun 2

“Bob,” played by Lewis Pullman, is “meek and straight-laced in nature” and someone who “doesn’t have the expected flair of a risk-taking aviator, but he has the technical brains to build a rocketship.” Despite having a rather bland Top Gun 2 call sign, his character in Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best Weapons System Officers. He’s one of the highlights of the film, as out of most of the brash officers, he remains shy and unassuming.

How To Get Your Own Top Gun: Maverick Call Sign

Top Gun 2 Maverick Tom Cruise stunt

The call signs are one of the coolest parts of the Top Gun franchise, and now anyone can get their own call signs without having to do all of that extra army training. The Top Gun: Maverick advertising team has set up a website in which users can generate their own Top Gun 2 call sign. Alongside using camera access, the web app utilizes AR to scan one’s face to help determine the perfect name.

After the face scan, the tool asks a couple of personality-based questions to better pick a spot-on call sign for the user. Along with the face scan, people get a selfie with a pilot helmet filter that can be uploaded to social media or any platform of one’s choosing. If a user doesn’t like their picked call sign, they needn’t call for air support, as the app provides two other names after the initial selection. It’s a fun way for anyone to put themselves in Top Gun: Maverick‘s characters’ shoes after seeing the long-awaited reboot/sequel.

Why One Top Gun 2 Call Sign Had To Change

Hangman from Top Gun 2 in his cockpit.

In the first drafts of Top Gun: Maverick, Glen Powell’s Hangman nearly went by the call signs Spine Ripper or Slayer. Even though Hangman is a far better call sign than both (with one sounding like the name of a metal band and the literally being one), there was a deliberate reason for the change, and it came from Powell himself. On reading the script, Powell instantly noticed a glaring inaccuracy with the suggested call signs. The stars of Top Gun: Maverick consulted with Navy professionals while developing the film, and Powell revealed a key takeaway (via Cinemablend):

“In the first Navy briefing, they were like, ‘You know, these are Air Force call signs, and these are Navy call signs. There are Air Force call signs like Slayer and Spine Ripper.’ And I was like, ‘Well, I gotta change this!”.

There are, apparently, different traditions in the Air Force and Navy when it comes to choosing call signs. The garish Spine Ripper and Slayer, according to Top Gun 2‘s Navy consultants, fell into the Air Force camp. This didn’t sit well with Powell, so he spent some time in Miramar with some real-life Navy pilots to find a new moniker for his character. This is how Jake “Hangman” Seresin got his call sign. The production team of Top Gun: Maverick had no issue with the change, especially with the logical reason for it. Hangman is a much more Navy-appropriate callsign for Jake Seresin, and one that stays true to the fact the pilots in the Top Gun franchise don’t fly with the Air Force.

Related: Top Gun: Maverick Continues A Trend With Real-World Consequences

Top Gun 2 Call Signs Are An Example Of Why It Succeeded

Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun 2

The Top Gun 2 call signs are a part of the larger reason that the movie was the standout success of 2022: attention to detail. The production crew of Top Gun: Maverick did a lot to make sure that the feature film was as accurate to real life as possible. For example, the P-51 Mustang that Maverick and Rooster are working on in the end was actually Tom Cruise’s own aircraft. Many of the flying scenes featured weren’t made with CGI. Rather, real planes and pilots were used.

Reportedly, a big chunk of the movie’s budget was used on renting real Navy aircraft for the film to add to its authenticity. The Top Gun 2 call signs are just one more way that the film stays as true to real life as possible. It’s attention to detail like this that skyrocketed Top Gun: Maverick to be the highest-grossing box office of 2022, beating out huge contenders like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Next: Every Box Office Record Broken By Top Gun: Maverick



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