Last week, it was announced that Space Jam 2 is finally on the way. The long-rumored project has been simmering at LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment for years. Various directors have been attached to the project at various times, and the film has been declared dead on multiple occasions. But, at long last, it looks like Space Jam 2 is really going to happen.
James has assembled an impressive creative team to work on the project. Ryan Coogler has come aboard as a producer and Terence Nance, whose colorful experimental aesthetic might be just what the animated flight of fancy needs, will direct.
For James’ part, he and business partner Maverick Carter have already racked up a number of successes at SpringHill as producers. With shows like Survivor’s Remorse and documentaries like Rise Up under their belt, and a variety of high profile projects in developement, SpringHill has positioned itself as an entertainment powerhouse.
With all of this talent arrayed behind the project, excitement for Space Jam 2 is spreading like wildfire. Let’s get in on the anticipation by speculating who might round out the film’s cast. While we expect that the Looney Tunes will play themselves, the rest of the cast could definitely be improved by a 21st century overhaul. With the right cast, Space Jam 2 might be as good as we falsely remember the first Space Jam to have been.
LeBron James as Michael Jordan
As soon as Space Jam 2 was announced, one thing was for sure: LeBron is going to be the star. Of course, LeBron’s company is producing, which makes him the choice obvious. James is not only the greatest active basketball player, he is the only star since Jordan to reach a similarly ubiquitous profile.
It is also clear that he has been preparing for this moment. While Michael Jordan’s acting experience pre-Space Jam was limited to various commercials, LeBron has been pushing himself towards a moment like this. In addition to his well-received performance in Trainwreck, he has a sizable role in the animated feature, Smallfoot, and has appeared in bit parts on Sponge Bob Squarepants, Entourage, and Teen Titans Go!
If ever there was an athlete with the stature, charisma, and chops to star opposite the Looney Tunes, LeBron James is the man for the job.
Lakeith Stanfield as Bill Murray
Perhaps the lone bright spot of the original Space Jam is Bill Murray. His blasé cool provides the perfect counterpoint to the zany proceedings that mix Looney Tunes, space aliens, and NBA all-stars. Murray traipses through the original film alternately unimpressed and supremely self-conident.
Looking at the current landscape of character actors with these particular qualities, Lakeith Stanfield comes to mind. In an age of dorky Judd Apatow acolytes and try-hard broad comedians, Stanfield is one of the few big-time actors with an effortless cool reminiscent of early period Chevy Chase or Bill Murray. Also, at six feet tall, Stanfield has the height to convince us he could add be a valuable addition to the Tune Squad coming off the bench.
Lil Rel Howery as Stan Polodek (Wayne Knight)
Lil Rel has had quite a year. He parlayed a breakout turn in Get Out into a host of opportunities including his own sitcom, Rel, a role in the ensemble comedy, Tag, and a prominent part in another basketball movie, Uncle Drew.
Though Lil Rel operates with a relaxed snark as opposed to Wayne Knight’s frantic, flop sweating approach, he has the comic chops to fit the bill of flesh-and-blood comic relief. It would also not be the first time that Stanfield and Howery have appeared on film togther (both of them were in Get Out), which might further helped their comedic chemistry
Danny DeVito as Swackhammer (Danny DeVito)
When you consider how few acting careers last even a decade, it is amazing to consider the impressive longevity of Danny DeVito’s career. When DeVito appeared as villainous intergalactic theme park tycoon, Swackhammer, in Space Jam, he had already been working for 25 years. Taxi, the show that first made him a household name, premiered in 1978.
And yet, DeVito’s fame has endured another twenty years since Space Jam premiered. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has run for over a decade and endeared a new generation to DeVito’s work. As DeVito prepares for roles in the forthcoming films, Dumbo, and Triplets, his star may be as bright today as it ever was. Thusly, to have DeVito reprise his role would make perfect sense.
Kate McKinnon as Lola Bunny
One of the biggest disappointments of the original Space Jam is Lola Bunny. Created as a “female merchandising counterpart” to Bugs Bunny, the Lola was litlre more than lazily drawn sex appeal. Even the voice talents of veteran Kath Soucie couldn’t bring Lola, a character with no personality, to life.
Hopefully we’ve moved beyond the era when representation meant simply having a female character for the men to pine over. In recognition of a shift in the entertainment business, the new Lola ought to be someone with the comedic chops to keep up with Bugs Bunny. Our nomination would be Kate McKinnon. Her comedic genius has earned awards on SNL and critical adoration on the big screen (she was by far the best part of The Spy Who Dumped Me). She should have no problem going toe to toe and ear to ear with the zany hijinx of Bugs Bunny.
Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O’Neil, Lisa Leslie, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffen as Charles Barkely, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley
The subplot of the original Space Jam that follows NBA superstars who have lost their powers is painful to watch today. Of the five NBA all-stars assembled for the film, there isn’t a decent actor among them. Each bit following the ballers attempting to recapture their mojo is worse than the last, and the few real actors are thrown into try to make these scenes work just aren’t up to the task.
With our casting, we will attempt to onlly include athletes with at least some acting chops. The largest parts could go to Kyrie, Shaq, and Lisa Leslie, all three of whom gave fine performances in Uncle Drew. We will round out the group with Kevin Durant, who got some film experience in 2012’s Thunderstruck and Blake Griffin, who appeared in 2018’s The Female Brain.
While we don’t expect every all-star to give a perfect performance, choosing athletes who have at least been there before can help sell a section of the film that dragged in the original.
For more 'Space Jam,' here are our thoughts on the original.