The original Space Jam introduced Lola Bunny, finally giving Bugs Bunny a girlfriend. She has made several appearances in Looney Tunes media since then, but she was given a full makeover for LeBron James' Space Jam sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy. Director Malcolm D. Lee decided to reverse her "very sexualized" look and present a more realistic female character, or at least as realistic as an anthropomorphic bunny who plays basketball can be.
"Lola [Bunny] was very sexualized, like Betty Boop mixed with Jessica Rabbit," Lee told Entertainment Weekly in the magazine's preview of the new Warner Bros. movie. Lee noted that Lola was "not politically correct" and it "felt unnecessary" for the character to wear a crop top. "It just felt unnecessary, but at the same time there's a long history of that in cartoons," he said.
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Since Lola was created specifically for Space Jam in 1996, Lee had some "leeway" when it came to redesigning her for 2021. She doesn't have the same history as other Looney Tunes characters, many of whom have been around since the 1930s. Lee said it was "important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters" for him in 2021.
Lola "probably has the most human characteristics of the Tunes; she doesn't have a thing like a carrot or a lisp or a stutter," Lee explained. "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."
One of Lola's character traits from Space Jam is sticking around though. She is still the best basketball player among the Tune Squad's animated characters. She also gets to hang out with the characters from Wonder Woman, since the plot of A New Legacy ropes in other Warner Bros. franchises. "We wanted to meet her with the Amazons, trying to find greener pastures for herself," Lee told EW. "As she says in the movie, there's more to her than just being a Tune."
The plot for A New Legacy was kept mostly under wraps until EW published its big preview this week. The plot starts with James and his son Dom (Cedric James) getting sucked into the Warner 3000 "Sever-verse" by Don Cheadle's rogue artificial intelligence character. The film will include references to DC Comics movies, Casablanca, The Matrix, Mad Max: Fury Road, and many others. How a film meant for younger audiences will reference R-rated movies remains to be seen. Audiences will have to wait until July 16 to see A New Legacy on HBO Max and in theaters to see how it all works out.