It has finally happened. Space Jam 2 has released an official trailer ahead of its premiere this summer. Starring NBA legend LeBron James and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the movie serves as a direct sequel to the 1996 blockbuster smash hit Space Jam. We've gotten limited sneak peeks at the movie up to this point, and now the trailer provides even more for fans anticipating the sequel to get excited about. You can watch the video below.
The new sequel follows LeBron James and his young son (Joe) getting trapped in a virtual space by an evil algorithm named AI-G Rhythm (Cheadle). To get himself and his son home safe, LeBron must team up with the Tune Squad - including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Lola Bunny - to defeat a team of basketball players made up of AI-G's digitized champions.
LeBron James plays a fictionalized version of himself in Space Jam 2, with the cast also featuring Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Cedric Joe, Ceyair J. Wright, Harper Leigh Alexander, Alex Huerta, and Khris Davis. The Looney Tunes voice cast features Eric Bauza (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Marvin the Martian, Tweety), Jeff Bergman (Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn), Kath Soucie (Lola Bunny), and Gabriel Iglesias (Speedy Gonzales).
Leading up to the release of the trailer, Space Jam 2 was embroiled in heaps of controversy over Pepe Le Pew getting axed from the sequel. At one point, when previous director Terence Nance was on board, Pepe appeared in a scene with singer-actress Greice Santo, with the latter putting the former in his place when the cartoon skunk begins to flirt with her. Once Lee came on board, the scene was scrapped and Pepe was removed from the movie entirely.
Another source of controversy was the redesign of Lola Bunny, who has been given a makeover to be much more family-friendly. In an interview addressing the controversy, director Malcolm D. Lee revealed why the changes were made for the sequel, and it basically comes down to the filmmaker feeling that it's unnecessary to "sexualize" the cartoon rabbit.
"Lola [Bunny] was very sexualized, like Betty Boop mixed with Jessica Rabbit. Lola was not politically correct," Lee told Entertainment Weekly. "This is a kids' movie, why is she in a crop top? It just felt unnecessary, but at the same time there's a long history of that in cartoons. This is 2021. It's important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters."
Lee added: "She probably has the most human characteristics of the Tunes; she doesn't have a thing like a carrot or a lisp or a stutter. So 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."
Space Jam: A New Legacy will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16, 2021. Time will tell if the new sequel reaches the same levels of success as the original, which is still the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time. We'll know if we have a new champion this summer. The new official trailer for Space Jam 2 comes to us courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.