Because now that we finally have a full plot synopsis for the Space Jam sequel, it raises one extremely important question, a question it never occurred to me that I would have to ask during io9's coverage of the film. The question I have for this movie, about LeBron James and Looney Tunes characters playing basketball together, is this: how does the basketball fit in, exactly?
Because if you read this sprawling Entertainment Weekly article on the project, which heads back into the weeds on original Space Jam star Michael Jordan’s philanthropy all the way through to how James’ New Legacy costar Don Cheadle coached him on acting during the shoot, is the first description of the movie’s plot. It’s not an official synopsis, but it seems mostly thorough (the brackets are ours, the parentheses EW’s):
Playing a heightened version of himself, James struggles to relate to [his son] Dom [played by Cedric Joe], who’s much more interested in creating games than playing them. When Dom’s tech skills draw the attention of a CGI humanoid named Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), the father-son duo get sucked into the Warner 3000 entertainment “Server-verse,” with the A.I. kidnapping Dom in the hopes of stealing some of the King’s followers (IRL he has about 80 million on Instagram). Cheadle doesn’t consider Al G a bad guy (what bad guy does?), but rather “an A.I. with a chip on his shoulder,” says the MCU veteran.
Cyberspace Jam! Totally works for me.
This being a Space Jam movie, a basketball game settles things once and for all. To save his son and escape this virtual reality, James must round up the Tunes, including a banished Bugs, to defeat the formidable Goon Squad.
Okay, what? How do we get from cyber-kidnapping to “basketball happens”? There’s an enormous blank space between the two events, and basketball is kind of a key part of the Space Jam formula. I’m sure there’s a reason in the movie and it’s probably at least as fine as the Looney Tunes challenging diminutive, would-be-kidnapper aliens to some hoops, which sets up all the basketball chaos that ensues in the original movie. But it seems odd to omit this key part of the new movie’s premise.
When James is sucked into the WB server, he drifts through some of the studio’s most famous films to track down his underdog squad. “It was a tricky thing just in terms of what you may want, like, ‘Oh my God, look, there’s Mad Max, and there’s Casablanca!’” [Director Malcom D.] Lee explains. (James also mentioned The Matrix and Wonder Woman as part of the WB look back, though no title is confirmed yet.)
This sounds fun, but now I’m imagining a movie about a basketball game for the fate of the world, and James’ team consists of Humprey Bogart in Casablanca, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Pennywise from It, and Godzilla.
Alas, the Looney Tunes-centric version of Space Jam: A New Legacy will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16. If you have your own WB-character dream team roster, please, feel free to share it in the comments.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.