Space Jam: A New Legacy -- Release Date And Everything We Know So Far

A brand new Space Jam sequel is incoming.

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The original 1996 movie Space Jam starred NBA G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, who led the Looney Tunes in an interstellar basketball game against a squad of aliens. Twenty-five years on, the movie is fondly remembered, even if the critical response at the time of its premiere was mixed.

Will this new movie simply pay homage to its predecessor, or will it be the rare sequel that improves upon it? Here's everything we know so far about Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Space Jam 2 Release Date

Space Jam: A New Legacy will release on July 16, 2021. It will screen in theaters and launch on HBO Max.

It's Good to be the King

NBA future Hall-of-Famer Lebron James will be taking on the lead role in the movie. Just as Michael Jordan is widely considered the greatest basketball player of his era, James is considered the greatest player of the current era. And unlike Jordan, James has some proven comedic chops. His cameo appearances in Amy Schumer's movie Trainwreck made for some of the movie's best moments. James is also a producer on the film.

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Supporting Humans

Like in the original Space Jam, the new movie will star human characters, interacting directly with cartoon characters in a way that creates the impression that they are inhabiting the same space. This will be accomplished through a combination of different animation styles and CGI special effects.

Actors who will be playing human roles, in the flesh, include Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green (who plays Michael Burnham on Star Trek), and Cedric Joe, who will be playing James' son.

Featured Toons

All the usual suspects--Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Taz, Marvin the Martian, Tweety, Speedy Gonzalez (comedian Gabriel Iglesias), and Sylvester--will be in the movie. Also returning is Lola Bunny, the animated female rabbit from the first movie. The characters have a three-dimensional, digitized look, unlike the two-dimensional, cel-shaded look in the first movie.

But rather than buzzing about who is in it, social media has been critiquing who is not there--or in the case of Lola Bunny, what is not there. More on all of that in a bit.

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Basketball Cameos

Current NBA stars Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Draymond Green, and Kyle Kuzma, and current WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike, will have cameos in the new movie. In the first movie, NBA stars Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues also had lengthy cameos.

The Director and Writers

The director is Malcolm D. Lee, cousin to Spike Lee, who specializes in broad comedies that feature black leads. His breakout film was the satirical farce Undercover Brother (2002). His recent successes include Girls Trip (2017) starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Night School (2018) starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. Lee replaces Terrence Nance, who left the Space Jam sequel project over creative differences.

Nance retains a writing credit and is credited for the screenplay alongside Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, and Keenan Coogler.

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What's The Plot?

LeBron James and his son visit Warner Bros. studios, where they are transported to a virtual world consisting of famous Warner Bros. sets and scenarios; King Kong and Batman will both appear in the movie. To escape, James, Bugs, and the Looney Tunes have to play a virtual game of basketball against massive, digitized NBA and WNBA players. Cheadle co-stars as the villain AI G Rhythm, the algorithm that sets this chain of events in motion.

The Lola Bunny Controversy

The buzz around the film has largely centered around "cancel culture" outrage connected to the characters. Lola Bunny is noticeably less sexualized in the sequel, with a regular jersey instead of a crop top and more concealed curves. Lee commented on these changes in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

"... We reworked a lot of things, not only her look, like making sure she had an appropriate length on her shorts and was feminine without being objectified, but gave her a real voice. For us, it was, let's ground her athletic prowess, her leadership skills, and make her as full a character as the others."

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The Pepé LePew Controversy

Pepé Le Pew was originally planned for a scene in the movie, but was cut from the film when Lee took over directing duties from Nance.

Pepé Le Pew has received criticism in recent years for normalizing rape culture. But despite rumors to the contrary, Deadline stated that the decision to cut Pepé had nothing to do with the recent New York Times op-ed deriding the character. In fact, the scene would have shown him getting slapped for getting handsy with a woman and reprimanded by James. Pepé would have also revealed that Penelope Pussycat had filed a restraining order against him.

The Speedy Gonzalez Controversy

Also caught up in the New York Times controversy was Speedy Gonzalez, who has been accused of perpetuating negative Mexican stereotypes. Gabriel Iglesias, who performs the voice for Speedy in the movie and is of Mexican descent, tweeted to pre-empt any cultural backlash: "I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too? U (sic) can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico."

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