When LeBron James hits the court with the Looney Tunes in Space Jam: A New Legacy, the toon stars of the Toon Squad will meet some surprise guest stars from across the Warner Bros. movie-verse. In the 25-years-later sequel to Space Jam, where it was NBA superstar Michael Jordan who dunked on a team of talent-stealing aliens, it's human-looking A.I. Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) who brings James and son Dom (Cedric Joe) into the Warner 3000 entertainment "Server-verse" in a plot to steal some of James' millions of social media followers.
Facing down The Goon Squad — what is "probably the best team ever assembled in basketball history," James told Entertainment Weekly — James will assemble the new Toon Squad by traveling through the Warner Bros. server for a courtside look at some of the studio's most famous films.
"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 Malcolm D. Lee told EW. James made mention of blockbuster titles like The Matrix and Wonder Woman, but EW notes the exact movies referenced in A New Legacy aren't confirmed.
Not only will James will surf the "Server-verse," but Lee teases there are "a lot of the WB characters at the game, watching like they do at Rucker Park." According to EW, heavyweights like Batman and King Kong are among the A-list talent watching courtside.
Early last year, leaked photos said to be from Space Jam 2 showed such franchise characters as Batman's archenemy Joker, Pennywise the Clown from IT, and the green-faced Mask from The Mask. In first-look photos from A New Legacy, look closely at a shot of Bugs Bunny and you'll spot what appears to be characters from the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Herculoids among the crowd of spectators.
"Kids are [now] more likely to watch other kids' YouTube channels than cartoons," Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther and a producer behind A New Legacy, said about the classic cartoon stars at the heart of the Space Jam sequel. "It was a bit challenging to think about, but we were reminded very quickly why the Looney Tunes work. When we watch the parts of the film [featuring] the Tunes, you have a smile come over your face because, if you're from our generation, you miss them."
Space Jam: A New Legacy releases in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16.