‘Space Jam’, the 1996 film starring Michael Jordan, and of course, Bugs Bunny, was an iconic movie which playfully introduced basketball to the world-renowned Looney Tunes family. This July, a new ‘Space Jam’ movie will take the screen, hopefully living up to its predecessor.
A trailer for ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ was released in early April. It appeared that many key elements of the original movie would remain the same in the new one: a legendary NBA player, this time, Lebron James, teaming up with the Looney Tunes characters to defeat a team of villains in a high stakes basketball faceoff. However, it also seems that many features of the movie will be tweaked or updated to relate to a contemporary audience.
Some revisions seem to remove sexist stereotypes that were reinforced in the original movies. The most noticeable example can be spotted in the redesign of character Lola Bunny, who lost her alluring mannerisms and was given a less revealing outfit. The character will be voiced by Zendaya, known for her starring role in the series ‘Euphoria’ as well as in ‘Spiderman: Homecoming.’ Her redesign has been a subject of Twitter debates from fans who are upset by her new appearance. Newsweek shares that others are calling for Lola to receive personality development alongside her physical updates, and for her to be depicted as more than just a love interest. The character, Pepe Le Pew, will be completely removed from the show due to his sexually predatory image. Director Malcolm D. Lee explains these changes, saying that “this is 2021. It’s important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters.”
The team of supervillains, known as the Monstarz, will also be receiving a makeover. The original team of five animated alien monsters who stole their basketball abilities from Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, and Charles Barkley will be replaced by the Goon Squad, a far more intimidating team of superhuman players with powers like shapeshifting or extra limbs. The new team will include both NBA and WNBA stars, and will be voiced by Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi, and Klay Thompson.
It is comforting to see the updates that have been made in the portrayal of female characters, especially in a children’s movie. It is fascinating to see how the setting and antagonists of the movie have been made “techier” to respond to a more digital time. I cannot wait to see how these revisions play out in the movie, which will premiere on July 16th. My biggest hope is that the new movie, while staying up to date, will be able to maintain the classic goofy sentiments of the original one.