The cast of the long-awaited sequel celebrated the film's global premiere in San Diego

After three years of waiting, Top Gun: Maverick finally had its long-awaited global premiere in San Diego. And it was an epic affair.

Staying true to the setting of the movie about a group of young and brash Top Gun navy fighter pilots, the premiere took place on the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. Leading man Tom Cruise, who returns as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, arrived in suitably grand style—in a helicopter.

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Known to be incredibly affable on the red carpet, Cruise revealed why it was finally time to make a sequel to the 1986 box-office smash. "It was now or never. I was thinking how technology had evolved to be able to give the audience that kind of experience. And finally the story came together and technically the things that I felt that we could give to a global audience was something that I thought, 'Ok, if we were gonna go in, we're gonna go in now.'"

Indeed, Cruise insisted that the cast of actors including Miles Teller, Glen Powell and Monica Barbaro undergo gruelling flying lessons and learn how to work a camera in a fighter jet, in order to deliver a realistic portrayal of the airborne action sequences. 

The sequel takes place 30 years after the original movie. Maverick returns to Top Gun training school after being recommended by his former rival Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky to train a group of graduates on a special mission. 

Director Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Cruise in Oblivion, approached the sequel as "a drama wrapped in an action film. The story is focused on Maverick, a rite of passage story, and what would be appropriate and interesting for a guy in his 50s. So the first task was kind of cracking that."

Scroll the gallery below for the red carpet highlights:

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Photo 1 of 8 Tom Cruise (Photo by Emma McIntyre/WireImage)
Photo 2 of 8 Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly (Photo by Emma McIntyre/WireImage)
Photo 3 of 8 Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry (Photo by Emma McIntyre/WireImage)
Photo 4 of 8 Monica Barbaro (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo 5 of 8 Glen Powell (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo 6 of 8 Manny Jacinto (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo 7 of 8 Jon Hamm and Anna Osceola (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo 8 of 8 Kenny Loggins memorably performed the song 'Danger Zone' on the original soundtrack of 'Top Gun' in 1986 (Photo by Emma McIntyre/WireImage)
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