Easter weekend was a big one for those stoked for Space Jam: A New Legacy. There was the arrival of its first full-length trailer, which showed new star LeBron James hobnobbing with not only Looney Tunes icons but also an army of other characters currently owned by its owner, Warner Bros. But there’s one other piece of Space Jam sequel news: This new version will feature a new voice for Lola Bunny, the character who debuted in the 1996 original.
As per Entertainment Weekly, no less than Emmy-winning actress and singer Zendaya will voice the role of a female rabbit who’s a whiz on the basketball court. It’s not clear when she nabbed the role — if this is an old development or a new one. (Animated films are famous for changing major details, sometimes at the last minute.) But though she’s seen in the trailer she’s not heard. But then it was already a pretty packed house anyway.
Lola Bunny is one of the issues that turned the Space Jam sequel into an improbably controversial piece of cinema. When she bowed a quarter century ago, some took umbrage with her sexualized design, especially as she resembled a teenage girl in bunny form. One of those people was Malcolm D. Lee, director of A New Legacy, who told EW as much back when they profiled the movie mid-production.
“Lola was not politically correct,” Lee said of the original version. “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.” The new film’s iteration will instead “reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters.” She’ll even be introduced hanging with the Amazons from Wonder Woman, another WB property. “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.” And that voice is now literally one of the most successful women in the industry.
Space Jam: A New Legacy will hit arrive in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16.