On Saturday, April 3, 2021, Warner Bros. Pictures dropped the first trailer for a film that is sure to become the Summer Jam.
While I waited in line for my Morning Joe, I checked my phone and YouTube app. Moments later, I nearly dropped both as goosebumps overcame my body.
“It’s really here”, I cried, “A new Legacy… Of Space Jam!”
Surrounded by the sound and the fury of Starbucks with no headphones, I proceeded to watch the official trailer full volume. Though my non-Millennial co-patrons may have been annoyed by my cartoonishly audible intrusion, I simply didn’t care.
It’s Space Jam, Baby. It’s finally back and looks better than ever.
Let’s hit the film room for a first look at the “A New Legacy” trailer:
Space Jam: A New Legacy Trailer
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James (heard of him?) is having trouble relating to his son Dom James (played by Cedric Joe). LeBron the Father loves his son Dom. Young Dom loves his father back but needs to go his own way.
The two generations desperately want to meet somewhere in the middle, but can’t find a common court.
One thing leads to another, the family is separated, and they both face challenges to reunite. What those challenges are exactly have yet to be revealed… though we can be sure they somehow involve winning a basketball game.
“Space Jam 2: A New Legacy” is like “Finding Nemo” except the wife is alive (and played by Sonequa Martin-Green), is nominally less animated, and stars the Looney Tunes.
So it looks great. And speaking of looking great, check out The King as a Looney Tune.
They should’ve done this years ago.
Is Swackhammer back?
Sadly, Danny DeVito will not reprise his role of the dastardly Swackhammer for this film. Happily, we get the amazing Don Cheadle as a substitute.
The Don takes on the role of Al-G Rhythm, a thinly-veiled reference to the algorithm that rules our lives on the web. Cheadle’s Al-G Rhythm is the physical surrogate for the WB “Server-Verse,” the imaginary and electronic dream world in which LeBron and son become lost.
It’s all much more meta than the first film, but it’s 2021… aren’t we all? At least the filmmakers kept the plot points topical, relevant, and understandable to audiences today.
Not a lot is known about Al-G Rhythm’s motives yet. Is he truly a bad guy? Is his aim really to strengthen King James’ relationship with his Prince? Does he have his own messed-up history with a father that he is seeking to avenge?
These questions will be answered by the King, Tune Squad, and new menacing renditions of the Monstars.
The Tune Squad Is Back, Baby!
NBA superstar LeBron James’ addition to the Tune Squad line-up has been inevitable since he first joined The Association in 2003, seven years after the original “Space Jam” hit the court.
King James is finally here to captain the Tune Squad and America’s favorite basketball team is back with some familiar faces.
Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Gossamer, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Taz, Granny, Speedy Gonzalez, and the wild rabbit Lola Bunny herself all reprise their roles as the best ballers in Looney Land.
The team thankfully remains the same and we can expect plenty of cartoonish cameos from Marvin the Martian and others. It’s their Looney look that’s been updated.
The Space Jam 2 trailer takes place partially in a classically animated Looney Tunes world and partially in our own. In Tune Town, the Tunes keep their hand-drawn appearances. In our world, they are tastefully rendered by GCI.
Compared to other computer-generated disasters we’ve seen recently, the Tune Squad looks like All-Stars. And you can’t talk about the best without mentioning the worst.
The Goon Squad Looks Ferocious
The Goon Squad (aka the Monstars; fka the Nerdlucks) look more terrifying than ever.
Screw James Gunn – this is the real Suicide Squad. Here’s who they are and where you can see them in the trailer:
The first goon appears to be LeBron’s real-life teammate and buddy Anthony Davis as some sort of Birdman, judging by the brow and wingspan at 1:52. We briefly see Damian Lillard right after, but more on that in a second.
Monstar Klay Thompson looks gorgeous as some sort of sinister Splash Brother at 1:56. He’s immediately followed by his opposite, some sort of Fireman, also played by Klay. I’m surprised Uncle Drew isn’t the fifth Monstar, and it’s unclear if Kyrie Irving will make an appearance in the film.
The first Space Jam was missing the talents of the Badass Women of Basketball. A New Legacy corrects that oversight by adding WBNA ballers alongside the NBA players.
WNBA star Diana Taurasi is the Beetlejuice look-a-like serpent Monstar we see quickly at 1:54. Immediately after, Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwunike appears as an even more intimidating Tim Burton fever-dream monstrosity; some sort of nightmare spider who likely excels at dribbling.
As promised, at 2:24 the Dame Bot returns. The robot, who we will likely learn is connected to “Time” in some way or another (it’s always Dame Time somewhere, right?), rounds out the terror-inducing team. But how does this Goon Squad compare to the old?
Old Heads often complain that today’s NBA is too soft. I doubt anyone will say that about this Goon Squad.
While the 1996 Monstars balanced their evil with goofiness, 2021’s Goon Squad appears instantly more intimidating.
It’s too early to tell what their personalities will reveal, but they look bad-ass as hell. For the moment, my vote resides with the new over the old. I can’t wait to watch that spider dribble.
Space Jam 2’s Easter Eggs
Michael Jordan’s Space Jam took place in two worlds: Toon Town and our world. LeBron’s Space Jam takes us way beyond Tune Town.
In our post-modern entertainment culture of Marvel cinematic universes, Netflix versus Disney marathons, and cross-platform compatibilities; how could a WB franchise be limited to only one of its many entities?
Much of this trailer takes place in the WB “Server-verse.” It’s a made-up word we all understand, like “Spider-Verse” or “Spider-Pig.” The Server-Verse is understood to include all WB properties and characters, so anything owned by WB is fair game.
The trailer alone makes multiple references to the Matrix, Iron Giant, and the Lord of the Rings (the movie, not MJ and his six rings). Suffice to say – this trailer has enough Easter Eggs to fill your basket till Christmas.
Here’s what I saw in the order that I saw it: LeBron enters the server-verse and passes a Game of Thrones world immediately at 0:35. Next, he gets swept up in the tornado passing by the Wizard of Oz world. We appear to pass by a world (ever so briefly) devoted to The Matrix at 0:45. You can make out several of Fred Flintstone’s dinosaurs at 1:33. Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine is visible briefly at 1:38. The Iron Giant leaps ahead of a Game of Thrones Dragon at 1:42 immediately followed by Jabberjaw(!) briefly at 1:43.
The Yabba-Dabba-Do of Fred Flintstone leads the Stone-Age family alongside the Jetsons, Yogi Bear (plus Boo Boo), Magilla Gorilla, and Captain Caveman. King Kong (fresh off Godzilla vs. Kong) and some other furry creatures chase down an old-timey airplane until we get a brief look at the crowd behind Don Cheadle.
While the Chead yells, our eyes feast upon a blonde woman, what appears to a Man in Black, Uncle Festus(?), and a Wizard of Oz monkey. The last discernible figure is my favorite one yet- half of the face of Pennywise.
At 2:32, I can make out Robin (Batman’s sidekick) standing next to what appears to be a man in a black mask and cowboy hat. When LeBron and Bugs take the screen for the final shot at 2:33, you can see Mad Max goons to their left.
WB might as well have named this “Ready Player Two“.
Will There Still Be Classic Looney Tunes Hijinks?
Is Daffy Duck’s ass waterproof?
“Shoot the ball” commands Daffy Duck (Eric Bauza). NRA-advocate Yosemite Sam pulls out two pistols and riddles the ball with bullets. Politics aside, it’s the classic Looney Tunes-style gag we expect from the franchise, from teaser trailers to final shots.
Aside from how great the CGI Looney Tunes characters look, there’s a moment at 2:11 that takes the crown as my favorite of the trailer. The image of Lola Bunny (Zendaya) recreating the iconic “Wade arms-wide-open-while-LeBron-slams-a-dunk” poster with a wink pretty much says it all.
“Yeah, we’re self-aware. But we’re killing it over here; come have some fun.”
Out of all the words in the dictionary, “fun” might be the most appropriate for this trailer. I’ve had high hopes for the film ever since the first one rocked my youth. From everything I’ve seen in the new trailer, Space Jam 2’s legacy looks-a-dream come true.
Space Jam 2 (Space Jam: A New Legacy) from Springhill Entertainment and directed by Malcolm D. Lee (formerly Terence Nance) has a release date in theaters and streaming on HBO Max of July 16.