We Should All Be Thirsting Over ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Star Glen Powell

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Paramount
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Paramount

Top Gun: Maverick is a monumental film.

After six delayed release dates, it has become the record-breaking blockbuster of the summer, already racking in over $500 million worldwide. Tom Cruise, the so-called “last Hollywood movie star,” has reprised his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in a sequel to a movie that serves as some of the most successful military propaganda put to screen. But ultimately, I’m just here for the beautiful men who happen to fly fighter jets for a living.

To summarize: you come for Cruise’s star power and killer stunts, and end up staying for the likes of Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Jon Hamm, and a handful of other distractingly well-toned dudes.

Who cares about media that celebrates the United States military when it gives you the chance to objectify men for a few minutes as a treat?

If you, like me, have been on TikTok anytime since Maverick’s release, you have probably come across at least a few videos set to Berlin’s hit song “Take My Breath Away” addressing the beach football scene in the new film that recalls the infamous shirtless volleyball scene from the original 1986 movie.

When discussing or displaying their visceral reactions to the gloriously sweaty scene, the people on social media—the majority of whom appear to be horny women—have largely been fawning over Miles Teller, his flawless mustache, and the little dance he does in the montage. I, on the other hand, had my eyes all over Glen Powell, Top Gun: Maverick’s well-oiled, scene-stealing hunk.

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I fully understand the Teller hype. I, too, had a massive crush on him when I was a 12-year-old obsessed with Divergent, and I will always be the first person to come to the defense of his two misunderstood classics, The Spectacular Now and Project X. But his sex symbol status should clearly be bestowed upon Powell and his intensely sharp jawline. He isn’t receiving nearly as much of the love and admiration that he deserves. (Exhibit A: his thirst traps and this mind-blowing photo of his ripped body shared by Ellis.)

The 33-year-old Texan with a smile that immediately makes you melt has been on the verge of becoming a bonafide star for what feels like ages, and it’s about damn time that we properly appreciate him. On the surface, he looks like a textbook American frat guy, but he has built a stellar career thus far through complex takes on the familiar bro-y roles in a way that reminds me of fellow movie star beefcake Channing Tatum.

One of Powell’s most recognizable roles—and the one that put him on my radar seven years ago—is Chad Radwell, a dreamboat college frat himbo in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. Let us submit for evidence: this scene of Powell and John Stamos in the shower in an episode of the series. Happy Pride.

Long before his breakthrough role in the short-lived but iconic Fox series, however, he formed a creative relationship with Richard Linklater after a supporting role in the director’s 2006 film Fast Food Nation. Since then, the pair have collaborated on two other films—the most recent being Netflix’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, which was released this year—and are currently in the middle of developing their fourth movie together, an action comedy titled Hitman.

It’s their second team-up though, the criminally underrated Everybody Wants Some!!, that marked a star turn for Powell and should’ve catapulted his career into something much bigger.

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In Linklater’s 1980-set spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, he plays Finnegan, an intelligent and energetic, smooth-talking, baseball-playing jock who always manages to be the coolest person in the room. Finn may come across as being an immature douche who tells stories about small penises, but Powell imbues him with so much charm that easily turns him into one of the most likable and hilarious cinematic characters to ever grace the silver screen.

Although he isn’t the central character in a film packed with rising stars, Powell has a captivating presence that makes him effortlessly walk away as the MVP. I would be remiss not to mention the fact that Everybody Wants Some!! is probably the hottest Powell has ever been, due in no small part to his magnificent hair and wardrobe, and with a mustache that walked so that Teller’s Top Gun stache could run and thrive as we speak.

Prior to his triptych of 2022 movies, including the upcoming Korean War drama Devotion set to be released in October, Powell’s last film role was in Set It Up, a 2018 Netflix romantic comedy that deserved a sequel and paired him up with fellow Everybody Wants Some!! national treasure Zoey Deutch, who should have gone on to become the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone of streaming era rom-coms in a perfect world.

As far as the premise goes, Set It Up is a fairly standard but delightful summer rom-com, centering on two overworked assistants, Harper (Deutch) and Charlie (Powell), who try to matchmake their Type A, Miranda Priestly-esque bosses in an attempt to alleviate some of the stress in their lives. Charlie is a (sort of) preppy and charming goofball who isn’t afraid of being vulnerable and wears short shorts, recalling the loveable rom-com leads of the aughts that you can’t help falling head over heels in love with.

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Say what you will about Set It Up’s quality, but you can’t deny that Powell has the range to carry movies across multiple genres despite some misses in his body of work (see: Sand Castle).

Powell came close to not even being in Top Gun: Maverick, having lost out on the coveted role of Rooster — the son of Maverick’s dearly departed buddy Goose (Anthony Edwards) from the 1986 film — that ultimately went to Teller. His dedication to snagging a part and ability to leave a lasting impression led to Cruise and company offering him a role that he could shape into his own.

Said role is hotshot Lieutenant Jake Seresin, call name Hangman, who, according to Powell in an interview with Indiewire, is the Maverick team’s way of recalling the spirit of the original movie. Hangman isn’t a total asshole, although he comes pretty close to being one throughout his rivalry with Rooster akin to the one between Maverick and Iceman (Val Kilmer) in Top Gun, and Powell plays him with both a cockiness and utter charisma that will make you dissolve in your theater seat and immediately change your Tinder location to the nearest military base.

To put it simply, Glen Powell is the type of jaw-dropping actor you would thirst watch a terrible or otherwise unappealing movie for, all the while having some gems in his filmography and a stunning physical appearance that makes it totally worth it.

While Teller has been on our radars for over a decade— Did you forget Anna Peele’s damning Esquire profile from 2015? I certainly didn’t—and is the obvious choice for directing our thirst, it’s clear that Powell’s time has finally arrived and we should be celebrating his beauty and talent. Let the Glenaissance begin!

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