A review on Superman’s scene in the movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy”
By Michael Moreno
For those who would like to see this scene without being spoiled, I ask that you please stop reading now. I will be talking about some spoilers, and I would hate to think that I had spoiled a film for anyone. Believe me, I know the feeling of being spoiled, and it’s not fun. For those of you who have seen this film, or who don’t mind any spoilers, here I go…
The movie is a fictional story involving real life basketball star LeBron James and his adventure to the world of Looney Tunes. There, he meets the legendary cartoon rabbit Bugs Bunny in hopes of forming a Looney Tunes basketball team. His reason for forming a team is to face off against an AI program (played by actor Don Cheadle) and its basketball team known as the “Goon Squad”. LeBron’s goal is to save his son, the rest of his family, and thousands of other people from being abducted and placed into a virtual world. The only way to free his family and everyone else is to play a virtual basketball game against the AI program, the Goon Squad, and his own son Dom.
During his quest, LeBron and Bugs travel to the Bruce Timm Superman animated universe, in hopes of recruiting Tim Daly’s Superman. While there, Bugs and LeBron (dressed as Batman and Robin) chase a runaway train in the Batmobile. The cause of the train going wild is Daffy Duck’s hijacking it. Having tied up the driver in order to have Porky Pig film his “saving” the train while dressed as Superman, Daffy’s attempt at “rescuing” goes horribly wrong, when the train’s brake leaver breaks off. With no way to stop the train, danger ensues on a collision course with an orphanage. LeBron and Bugs manage to get on top of the train, but fail to enter it, leaving them stuck holding on. As the train speeds by, it dramatically passes by Metropolis and its citizens (including Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen), zipping past the Daily Planet and breaking its top globe. From there the train passes by Gotham City, causing the Bat Signal to spin until it’s shown upside down.
The train then somehow manages to pass by the underwater city of Atlantis, breaking a few statues, and then zooms by the North Pole, breaking the Fortress of Solitude. The train then speeds back to Metropolis, where it would have hit the orphanage if it weren’t for Superman, who saves the orphaned children and the passengers on the train. Note, the train passengers now include Bugs, LeBron, Daffy, Porky, the train conductor, Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth, and a passenger whose identity I’m uncertain of. [It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Superman and Batman Animated Series.] As Daffy tries to take credit for the “rescue” (trouble) that he caused, a stern Superman as well as the Justice League stare at him, causing Daffy to try and shift the blame to Porky. As the Daily Planet’s globe falls and hits the ground, and sirens soar from the mayhem that was caused, LeBron asks Superman and the Justice League if any of them play basketball. The next scene that follows is of LeBron leaving that universe with only Bugs, Daffy and Porky on their ship.
I have to give this scene a 3-out-of-5 star rating, while I give the movie as a whole a 4-out-of-5 star rating. It just missed a lot of marks when it came to Superman. I will give my reasons why below.
Plot – 3: The plot I felt was a bit odd in this scene. In particular Daffy Duck’s and Superman’s characters. It’s Daffy, and I get that he would do this but, if this had happened in an episode of “Superman: The Animated Series,” I think that Superman would’ve acted a lot sooner. The train literally travels throughout all of planet Earth before Superman does anything to stop it. And letting Daffy and Porky leave freely without facing the consequences of their actions seems way out of character. Had this whole scene actually happened on an episode of “Superman: The Animated Series,” both Daffy and Porky would’ve had to face the consequences of their actions. That’s not to say that the scene wasn’t amusing. Plus, we are able to see for the first time in animation both Superman and Bugs Bunny on screen together. Unfortunately, they shared no dialogue with each other, and their shared scene is very brief.
Animation – 3: The animation for this film is very impressive. That said, the specific scenes where the animators chose to use it made little sense to me. In particular, the placement of it in Bruce Timm’s universe I found problematic. It was established that LeBron and Bugs had to travel to various worlds to recruit their team. Having left Looney Tunes world to travel to Superman’s, it would have made more sense if the looney-ness of Looney Tunes world had stayed there instead of it being present in Superman’s world as well. The winding rail tracks – that somehow take a train from Metropolis to Gotham, Atlantis, the Fortress of Solitude, and then back again – just doesn’t fit in Timm’s Superman’s world.
Music – 4: The “Superman Theme” that was used in this film was credited as being from “Superman Returns” “composed by John Williams. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment. INC.” The Superman theme is always a joy to hear, and it is arguably the greatest – if not one of the best – Superman theme songs ever created. However, in this film, it wasn’t used for Superman. It was used for Daffy, who was dressed up as Superman. And when Superman actually did show up, the theme song wasn’t played. For me, this was a big letdown. Superman and this iconic theme song go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly. And yet while they had both Superman and his theme song available for this film, I can’t help but wonder why they wouldn’t use it for Superman himself? In contrast, I will say that the “Batman Theme Reprise” and “Batwing Flies to Gotham” from BATMAN (1988) “Written by Danny Elfman. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment INC.” as well as the BATMAN THEME from “BATMAN:THE MOVIE (1966)” “written By Neal Hefti. Courtesy of 20th Century Studios” as stated in the film, were appropriately used for Bugs and LeBron’s Batman and Robin rescue scene.
Dialogue – 3: I just want to stress that this rating is not meant for the whole film, but only for this one scene. If I were rating the dialogue for the whole movie, believe me I would give it a higher rating. That being said, the reason for this grade is because Superman had no dialogue. In fact, no one from his world had any dialogue. Superman just gave a stern look with his arms crossed. In contrast, Wonder Woman, who shows up later in a separate world, had a few lines of dialogue, while Superman had nothing to say. At the very least, Superman should have been able to offer some advice to LeBron about finding a team, given the fact that his Justice League team was behind him. I will say though, that LeBron’s, Bugs’s, Porky’s and Daffy’s dialogue were entertaining, especially Daffy’s. His boasting of his misdeeds and then shifting the blame to Porky is classic Daffy behavior. And the interaction between LeBron and Bugs right after he realizes that he’s dress up as Robin while Bugs is dressed as Batman, was fun to watch. So I give points to LeBron and the Looney Tunes characters for their dialogue.
Overall – 3: In conclusion, I am glad to see that this film gave Superman at least some respect. I’m happy that they showed him saving people, and that they did not let him be just a passerby (as Clark Kent) while Bugs or Daffy saved the day and took credit for saving a part of Metropolis. Also, through various parts of the film, Superman’s name is mentioned, which, as a Superman fan, I appreciate. The movie, as a whole, I give a 4 out of 5 rating. It has really good acting, great special effects, and the story and plot would entertain any family. Not to mention there are also tons of pop culture references, probably as many as in the movie “Ready Player One.” For anyone who wants to see the 1990’s animated Superman make a return – even if only for a brief few seconds – I highly recommend seeing this film, if only for its one Superman scene. It may be a brief scene, but it’s worth the watch.