Zendaya Plays Controversial 'Looney Tunes' Character in 'Space Jam 2'

The first trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy dropped on Saturday, and fans were treated to a Where's Waldo sort of trailer, with characters from your favorite Warner Brothers properties (including some rather unexpected ones) making appearances a la Ready Player One. The general consensus seemed to be that the sequel to the 1996 cult classic looked like a fun time at the movies -- could we get a Michael Jordan cameo? -- and might even be worth a trip to the theater when things are safe.

Along with the new trailer, fans were treated to the news that recent Emmy winner Zendaya would be voicing the Looney Tunes character Lola Bunny for the film. Space Jam 2's official Twitter account shared the news with a cocky gif of the recently controversial character and the message of "Welcome to the Jam, Zendaya."

Lola Bunny was at the center of a right-wing controversy when director Malcolm D. Lee decided to make the character distinctly less sexualized. He explained his reasoning to Entertainment Weekly, explaining that he wanted the main female character to be more than "the heartthrob of the hoops." While many took issue with this change for some reason, Lee had good reasons for this decision.

"Lola [Bunny] was very sexualized, like Betty Boop mixed with Jessica Rabbit," Lee explained. "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." Considering the fact that the character was created specifically for the 1996 film, Lee felt like he had a little more "leeway" for interpretation without a more extensive history.

"This is 2021. It's important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters," Lee explained. "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."