Space Jam: A New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee has explained why we'll be meeting a new Lola Bunny in the upcoming sequel. This week, Lola's new look was unveiled in a sneak peek at Space Jam 2, which teams LeBron James with the most popular Looney Tunes characters. On social media, many fans had observed that the cartoon bunny now has an appearance that's much more family-friendly than the version featured in the original Space Jam.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Malcolm D. Lee opened up on why these changes to Lola Bunny were necessary. The decision came after watching the original Space Jam for the first time in 2019, and at the time, Lee felt flummoxed as to why the character was so "sexualized." As Lee explains in the interview:
"Lola [Bunny] was very sexualized, like Betty Boop mixed with Jessica Rabbit. Lola was not politically correct.... 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."
Noting that there are several other changes made with Lola beyond her new look in Space Jam 2, Lee goes on to add:
"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. For us, it was, let's ground her athletic prowess, her leadership skills, and make her as full a character as the others."
Directed by Lee, Space Jam: A New Legacy was written by Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, and Terence Nance. James, Ryan Coogler, Maverick Carter, and Duncan Henderson produce. Along with James, the cast includes Kath Soucie, Sonequa Martin-Green, Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, Jeff Bergman, Cedric Joe, and Eric Bauza. Of course, Bugs Bunny and Lola will also be joined by several other iconic classic characters like Daffy Duck, Tweety, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, and Speedy Gonzales.
Joe Pytka directed the original Space Jam, which was released in theaters in 1996. It starred Michael Jordan as himself in a similar storyline with the NBA legend partnering up with the Looney Tunes to take on a team of monsters. A big box office success, it is the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time and is one of the most iconic movies of the 1990s.
Serving as a direct sequel to the original movie, Space Jam 2 follows LeBron James and his young son Dom (Joe) winding up trapped in a virtual space by a rogue algorithm named AI-G Rhythm (Cheadle). To get back home, LeBron must team up with the Looney Tunes gang to take on the AI-G's digitized champions on the basketball court.
Space Jam: A New Legacy will premiere in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max on July 16, 2021. This news comes to us from Entertainment Weekly.