Warner Bros. Pictures today released the first trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy, the sequel to the 1996 hybrid live-action and animated film. The sequel again sees an NBA star, LeBron James, teaming with Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters to take on a villainous rival basketball squad. For the sequel, Warner Bros. decided that wasn't enough crossover. Instead, it took Space Jam into cyberspace, depicted as a multiversal wonderland of WarnerMedia intellectual property. That means the crowd that shows up to watch the Tune Squad take on the Goon Squad includes Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang, the Iron Giant, Robin, and more. But then there are also, for some reason, characters from A Clockwork Orange, which seems like an odd choice to add into what is supposed to be a children's movie.
If you're not familiar with Stanley Kubrick's 1971 classic, A Clockwork Orange adapts Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel about Alex, a teenager dedicated to a subculture based on "ultraviolence." Malcolm McDowell plays Alex in the movie, and in the film's notorious opening sequence, he and his friends commit acts of wanton violence and rape. It seems odd to include characters from this film -- which received an X rating upon its initial release in the United States before being edited down and re-released with an R -- in a movie that will, at worst, receive a PG rating.
Look, the kids seeing this movie probably won't notice the A Clockwork Orange characters while watching this story about cartoons playing basketball with monsters. Even if they do, they have no frame of reference. And yes, there are other characters from adult-focused properties like Game of Thrones and Mad Max in the movie. But the Night King and the War Boys are cartoonish villains that wouldn't be out of place in a work of children's fiction. Alex and his droogs are something different.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is the latest in a growing genre of movies that revel in cameos like this, following in the footsteps of Ready Player One, Wreck-It Ralph, and The LEGO Movie. That genre probably isn't going away any time soon. But at the very least, maybe studios should put some thought into which properties they insert where, instead of just opening the vault and dumping it out without care, that we might avoid more tone-deaf crossovers like this one.
Space Jam 2: A New Legacy opens in theaters and streams on HBO Max on July 16th.