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Space Jam: Here’s what we want to see in the sequel

A few humble suggestions for how to make Space Jam 2 a cinematic classic.

Space Jam is getting a sequel.

Space Jam 2 will star a-long-rumored-for-the-role LeBron James, and will be directed by Justin Lin, the helmer of four movies in the Fast & Furious franchise, The Hollywood Reporterreported Monday.

This is great news for many reasons. LeBron, who unfortunately will always have his share of critics, showed off some serious acting chops in the R-rated comedy Trainwreck last summer. Meanwhile, Lin is no stranger to taking a film franchise to new heights, having taken the Furious films from racing porn to global phenomenon.

People are going to want to see Space Jam 2 no matter what, but part of the reason we love Space Jam so much is that even 20 years later, the movie still mostly holds up. Space Jam 2 may seem like a slam-dunk financial success, but if this movie wants to stand the test of time, here are a few humble suggestions for what we want to see in the sequel.

Tell a comeback story

The beauty of the original Space Jam wasn’t just that Michael Jordan overcame all odds in leading the Tune Squad passed the Monstars, it’s that the movie seamlessly incorporated Jordan’s retirement from basketball and his eventual return to the sport. Space Jam is a comeback story. It’s about the world’s greatest athlete finding himself humbled in the throes of baseball, and re-discovering his love of the game thanks to Bugs Bunny and an incredibly high-stakes bet. (Par for the course for M.J., of course.)

The obvious parallel for LeBron is his return to Cleveland. Would he risk alienating all of South Florida by having the movie serve as an allegory for his return to the Cavs? It could work—especially if LeBron plays up his love of Akron and wanting to go back to the city that raised him. 

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Take the villains seriously

The Monstars were a surprisingly complex group for a 1996 kids movie. They weren’t purely evil, no, they were actually driven to such evil extremes by the odious Mr. Swackhammer (played by Danny DeVito). Heck, by the end of the movie, we were rooting for those aliens to blast Swackhammer to the moon. This movie won’t be great unless its villains are given an actual backstory. What are their motivations? Give us something complex!

Use those celebrity connects

If Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony don’t show up in this movie as NBA stars who’ve had their powers stolen, something will have gone terribly wrong. And Justin Lin needs to mine his social network too—we wouldn’t mind seeing some of the Fast & Furious cast show up. The Rock seems like the perfect guy to have as a sixth man off the bench in a basketball game to save the world. 

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Honor the original

Look, Space Jam is a movie that holds a special place in the heart of many. I remember begging my mom to buy me the movie on VHS, and playing the soundtrack on cassette tape in the car on the way to elementary school. This movie can’t be a cash grab. It needs an emotional center. It needs a committed performance. And it should pay homage to Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes from the first film, because none of this is possible if they didn’t bring a smile to our faces 20 years.

Oh, and speaking of the soundtrack...

...Only bangers need apply.