Space Jam: A New Legacy will see LeBron James team up with all your favorite Looney Tunes characters – including Lola Bunny, who was originally created for 1996’s Space Jam starring Michael Jordan. Lola has a reputation as one of those animated characters that folks find weirdly attractive, but if you watch the old movie from a modern perspective, it’s kind of uncomfortable how much she’s objectified by Bugs, Daffy and the rest of the Tune Squad.
That’s why the belated sequel has completely reimagined Lola, starting with redesigning her to be less “sexualized.” Director Malcolm D. Lee explained his different approach to the heroine while speaking to Entertainment Weekly and also criticized the original movie’s portrayal of her as “unnecessary.”
“Lola [Bunny] was very sexualized, like Betty Boop mixed with Jessica Rabbit,” he said. “Lola was not politically correct…. This is a kids’ movie, why is she in a crop top? It just felt unnecessary, but at the same time there’s a long history of that in cartoons.”
Lee went on to elaborate on how Lola’s personality has also been updated. This time around, he wanted to emphasize that she’s the “most human” of the cartoon characters and will be portrayed as highly capable both as a player and a leader.
“This is 2021. It’s important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters,” he said. “She probably has the most human characteristics of the Tunes; she doesn’t have a thing like a carrot or a lisp or a stutter. So we reworked a lot of things, not only her look, like making sure she had an appropriate length on her shorts and was feminine without being objectified, but gave her a real voice. For us, it was, let’s ground her athletic prowess, her leadership skills, and make her as full a character as the others.”
As we know by now, A New Legacy will be drawing from Warner Bros.’ rich legacy of iconic movies and will see the Looney Tunes interacting with various characters from the studio’s back catalog. Lee revealed to EW that Lola’s introduction in the film will be related to the Wonder Woman franchise. Maybe we can infer, then, that she’ll be training with the Amazons of Themyscira before she’s called on to take part in another basketball game with James and Bugs.
Voice actress Kath Soucie will reprise her role as Lola from 1996, though Kristen Wiig took over the gig in the interim for Cartoon Network’s underrated The Looney Tunes Show, which likewise added some extra dimensions to Lola.
After 25 years, Space Jam: A New Legacy finally arrives simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16th.