LeBron James to star in “Space Jam 2”

Movie poster for the original

Movie poster for the original "Space Jam", released on November 15 1996. The film premiered at #1 in the US box office and grossed over 230 million USD worldwide.

by Prameela Kottapalli, Reporter

Evil intergalactic theme parks and diabolical alien henchmen. Looney Tunes characters. NBA all-stars. If these words combined make sense to you, then you’ve watched “Space Jam,” the (notably cheesy) 1996 live-action cartoon film starring one of the most iconic athletes of all time, Michael Jordan. Next year, Warner Brothers Studios will release “Space Jam 2”, the anticipated sequel to the animated classic. The movie will feature one of the most renowned athletes of the current generation: LeBron James.

Last July, Warner Brothers announced a partnership with the four-time MVP of the National Basketball Association (NBA), LeBron James, just one month after filing trademarks for “Space Jam.” Last week, the Hollywood Reporter revealed that James signed to star in the film and that Justin Lin, director of “The Fast and the Furious” series, is set to direct it. Alongside Lin, screenwriter Andrew Dodge will help compose the script.

The original Space Jam movie, released twenty years ago, revolves around a newly retired Michael Jordan joining forces with Looney Tunes characters to win a basketball game against the Nerdlucks, a group of evil aliens. The Nerdlucks, originally tiny, unimposing characters, steal the talents of NBA stars Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson and transform into the enormous, menacing MonStars.

In addition to Barkley, Bogues, Ewing and Johnson, other NBA players made an appearance in “Space Jam”, including Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teammates Luke Longley and Scottie Pippen. Producers have already reached out to James’s Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, small forward J.R. Smith, to participate in “Space Jam 2”, and fans are speculating about who else should join James in the movie.

Members of the boys’ varsity basketball team, including Jordan Goheen (11), Abhay Varmaraja (11) and Elijah Edgehill (12), strongly believe that fellow teammate Prithvi Gudapati (12), above all others, should star in the movie.

“He hasn’t been drafted yet, but up there with Michael Jordan, he deserves his own movie. If the MonStars tried to steal Prithvi’s powers, Prithvi would just smack them and he’d steal their powers,” Jordan said. “They’d be all up on him and he’d be like: ‘Not today, now I’m an alien and Prithvi!’, and he’d be balling out. He’s probably the only person that I think you could put up there in the ‘Space Jam’ sequel territory. Sadly, he hasn’t been drafted yet, but one day, for sure, no question.”

Students who attended the lower school watched “Space Jam” on a regular basis, for  elementary school physical education teachers used to play it during rainy days in the locker rooms. Freshman Taylor Vaughan’s favorite part about watching “Space Jam” so many times is the appearance of Lola Bunny, Bugs Bunny’s love interest who helps the Looney Tunes squad defeat the MonStars.

“Every single time it rained in lower school we would watch ‘Space Jam’,” Taylor said. “I remember really liking Lola Bunny. I thought she was really cool, and I wanted to be her. I’m excited for the sequel.”

“Space Jam 2” will most likely premiere in 2017, over twenty years after the original was made. Despite this sizable time gap, many of those familiar with “Space Jam” look forward to the sequel.

“I think it came out ten years too late, but other than that I’m looking forward to it,” Tong Wu (12) said. “I enjoyed the first movie when I watched it.”

Despite the hype surrounding “Space Jam 2”, several fans of the original are not looking forward to the sequel.

“I think Space Jam should have ended with Michael Jordan’s career because you don’t really need a sequel. What, the aliens are going to come back and start playing golf?” Trenton Thomas (12) said. “I think they covered most of it, but I feel like the Hollywood sequel machine keeps pushing out things we don’t need, like the movie with Kevin Durant, ‘Thunderstruck’– that was just unnecessary. And it’s with LeBron– make it with Kobe, at least.”

LeBron James also showcased his acting proficiency starring as himself alongside Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck.” Although critics commended Schumer and Hader for their roles in the film, those familiar with LeBron James and his basketball career were dissatisfied with James’s acting performance and are skeptical about his capability to fill Michael Jordan’s shoes in “Space Jam 2”.

“I tried to watch “Trainwreck,” and I turned it off after ten minutes- it was a trainwreck,” Abhay said. “I do appreciate the fact that they’re bringing in J.R. [to ‘Space Jam’], but he still can’t save this movie- nothing can save this movie.”

Regardless of whether or not James will be able to fulfill the role Jordan once dominated, the upcoming sequel is predicted to rake in even more money than the original, which grossed over $230 million  worldwide and opened at No.1 in the US box office. Fans of basketball and cartoons alike, and even those longing for a nostalgic trip back to the 90’s, will flock to theaters all across the country to watch LeBron James shoot some intergalactic hoops with the Looney Tunes gang.