It is not farfetched to say that, for many, the year 2020 was riddled with one turbulent event after another. Thankfully, an announcement made in 2019 gave people a small ray of sunshine to look forward to in 2021 (Radio Times, 2021). That ray of sunshine was the announcement of Space Jam: A New Legacy (also called Space Jam 2). Its predecessor, Space Jam (1996), was very well received, making $90.5 million domestically and $159.7 million overseas. To say that it was successful as a movie is an understatement, which is why when the sequel was announced, it was sure to make a splash with Space Jam fans.
The Second Trailer
From what we can see in the trailer, Space Jam: A New Legacy looks like it has a lot to offer, promising a fun and adventurous movie. Many of the classic characters from the 1996 movie are set to return, including Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, and many more. The plot centers around pro basketball player LeBron James traversing Tune World to create an Allstar team to win his family back in a game of basketball from a malicious computer program holding them hostage. Wacky as it sounds, it promises to be a deeper and more involved story than the first Space Jam, which even then, didn’t need to have the most complex story to become a cultural icon.
(For more on how the first Space Jam came to be, check out this article by Entertainment Weekly for more).
The stakes are also just as high, since they range from Lebron James playing to win his family back, to “how all the Looney Tunes will be deleted if they lose the game” (Gizmodo, 2021).
Speaking of interesting, among the cast of Looney Tunes characters being reintroduced, Lola Bunny is going to have “a make-over for the film” (Radio Times, 2021). To better fit the times, Lola’s look is going to be updated so that it isn’t as overtly sexualized as past incarnations of the character. Since Space Jam 2 is supposed to be a kids’ movie, the director, Malcolm D. Lee, felt there was no good reason for Lola Bunny to be in a crop top, stating that it “just [would have] felt unnecessary” (Radio Times, 2021). It’s good that the director made this call, because it ties back into our conversation regarding Cruella and representation. Keeping with what the director noted as “a long history of [sexualization] in cartoons” would have only continued reinforcing the male gaze. Making this choice steers female representation in cartoons to a more acceptable place, one that does not allow the male gaze to loom over it. Had Lola Bunny’s look not been changed, that detail, subtle as it may be, would have only served to further indoctrinate children into this mindset.
Another change the movie will be making is that it will no longer be including Pepe Le Pew (a character notorious for his pursuit of another Looney Tunes character, Penelope Pussycat). According to Radio Times, there was a scene planned where Pepe Le Pew would be informed about consent by Greice Santo, a star from Jane the Virgin (Radio Times, 2021). Why the scene was cut from the film is still conjecture however, since Warner Bros. has not commented on the decision. Though to be frank, polarizing as it may have been, it would have been a good way to at least work towards airing out the controversy surrounding the character while speaking to why the character had become so polarizing in the first place. For more on this subject, this article by Deadline sheds more light on the intended scene and the conversation surrounding Pepe Le Pew.
Space Jam: A New Legacy looks like it is going to be a blast overall. The plot, which is just as insane and ballistic as its predecessor, looks like it will be offering what the original did and more. Although, something you might be wondering as a reader at this point might be, “the title says ‘why you should be excited’… but isn’t controversy the opposite of that?” To answer that question honestly, yes and no. Space Jam 2 is meant to be what it promises, a nostalgic, comforting movie for viewers of all ages to have fun seeing. That is where the excitement is. On the other hand, controversy can be just the opposite of that, as you can often find yourself on opposing sides of a debate which can go from zero to a hundred pretty quickly. This however, is why it is important that we do not shy away from these conversations. Recognizing the breadth and importance of the conversations that go on behind the scenes (pardon the pun) is important. The kinds of decisions movie makers choose or do not choose to make is an important subject. With this in mind, to see Malcolm D. Lee making the decisions he did in service to the audience is worth the mention. Space Jam: A New Legacy releases in both theaters and on HBO Max on July 16th, 2021.