I’m Calling Foul on ‘Space Jam 2’
Like any cinematic trend to come out of Hollywood within the last ten years, it seems that we will eventually be getting a sequel to the basketball/Looney Tunes crossover of Space Jam. While the original starred the great Michael Jordan who teamed up with the likes of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to play against the nasty MonStars, the follow-up will star LeBron James as the NBA star who teams up with the wacky cartoons to play against a currently unknown threat. The film originally set Justin Lin (Annapolis, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Star Trek Beyond) as its director, however, that role has since been passed to Terence Nance (HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness) with Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Creed, Fruitvale Station) set as producer. The film has also cast Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead, Star Trek: Discovery) and O’Shea Jackson. Jr (Straight Outta Compton).
I may be biased in saying this, but I don’t want Space Jam 2. I never even asked for Space Jam 2— much less one starring LeBron James out of all players. I don’t even like basketball all that much, but I grew up in Chicago and I still rep the Bulls to this very day (no matter how badly they play). So, it’s incredibly difficult to support a film that will replace the only “23” that matters. There really isn’t a player in the NBA today that can match the impact and reach that Jordan has had, and I don’t just mean in basketball. Shoes, pop culture, role models, MJ still stands at the top. The phrase “like Mike” spawned its own series of movies about kids playing as good as Jordan, and the Nike Air Jordan logo has survived through decades and has become a corporate icon. His Airness was a goddamn cultural phenomenon, and no one has since been able to match his level of popularity. If I had to choose anyone to star in Space Jam 2 that could possibly live up to what MJ did, it would have been the retired Kobe Bryant. Kobe came so close to reaching the same level of stardom, so it only seems right to use the great “24” to step into MJ’s “23.” However, it is understandable that this could not be done considering James sought to match Jordan’s debut into Hollywood, while Bryant chose to keep it all on the court.
There’s also the matter of James having difficulty casting other NBA All-Stars in the film. The original saw Jordan appear alongside greats like Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and many more. However, it would seem that James has had difficulty bringing together his own co-star cast of basketball’s top talents. Some sources say that disputes stem from the fact that James will be the main star of the film, while all others will be regulated to side characters. Many may turn down any involvement with the film because of this to avoid playing a part in “the LeBron show” and getting dunked on by him. Meanwhile, other sources say that the difficulty may be much deeper and more complicated than simple matters of pride and ego. Nike is a brand with essential stake in the Space Jam franchise, and the legal rivalry between other athletic clothing brands may be hindering the sequel’s development. Stephen Curry is locked into an Under Armour deal that will last through 2024, and James Harden is strictly an Adidas rep, which means that the involvement of these two players may be impossible. Also, Kevin Durant is a key player under Nike, and he is already pursuing his own career in Hollywood with the Apple series, Swagger, based on his own life. Giannis Antetokounmpo was contacted about possibly starring in the film alongside James, but declined, stating:
“I don’t like being Hollywood. I don’t like all this extra drama. I am just going to try to be me.”
However, it seems that one of his new Lakers teammates, Lonzo Ball, would like a role in the film.
Space Jam 2 is currently set to release on July 16, 2021. Although, that may change given the troubled development behind the project.
-Derek Luat Tran