There will be spoilers for Space Jam: A New Legacy in this article. Only continue at your own risk.
After a long wait, Space Jam finally got a sequel. Yet, there was a noticeable absence of 1996’s leading man. The first film’s leading man, Michael Jordan, did not return, but the Looney Tunes sure did. LeBron James took over as the central character, whose relationship with his son gets tested when a rogue algorithm tries to take over his status as king. Trapped in the Warner Bros. ServerVerse, he joins together with the classic Looney Tunes to take on Don Cheadle‘s Al-G Rythm and the Goon Squad in a basketball game of the century.
There are various references throughout the film to the original film, but no sign of the former NBA star. According to director Malcolm. D. Lee, there were plans for him to appear in a post-credit sequence, even if the chances were slim to none. It would’ve even referred to the 202 mini-series The Last Dance by ESPN Films and Netflix by echoing one of his iconic lines from the documentary.
We were holding out hope, but also knew that the likelihood was going to be very remote. Especially after The Last Dance came out, I was like, we’ve got to be able to do something, even like a tag at the very end after the credits with Bugs showing him the movie and saying, ‘What do you think, Doc?’ And just Jordan going, ‘I took that very personal.’ I wanted to do it! It would have been fantastic, but our movie is our movie and Space Jam is Space Jam
Luckily, the team did get visits by another Jordan, Michael B. Jordan. It seems he was shooting a project and dropped by the project to hang out with LeBron James. This coincidence led to one of the film’s best jokes when Sylvester gets him mixed up with the first film’s protagonist.
But it’s one of the greatest jokes that I’ve ever put in one of my movies — and it’s super unique to Space Jam. There’s no other movie where you could play this joke. Warner Bros. wanted really badly to use it in marketing, and I was like, you cannot do that, because this joke is too good to sacrifice.
It’s sad they couldn’t get Jordan to return, but it did make way for a very unique joke that, as the director points out, only Space Jam could make. Luckily, they talked the marketing team out of wasting it in the trailers. The film managed to beat out Blck Widow at the Box Office, but it’s uncertain if we might see this franchise return with more entries moving forward. Still, it was great seeing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes back on the silver screen. Even if this franchise doesn’t continue, it’s about time they get more films.
Source: Entertainment Weekly