Our Favorite Movie References in Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy, much like its predecessor, is a weird film. It might even top the the sheer absurdity of the original. In case you haven’t seen it (and this isn’t much of a spoiler) most of the action takes place in the “server verse,” a world in which every Warner Brothers property exists simultaneously. This gimmick gives the filmmakers an excuse to pack the film with references. Some are certainly not appropriate for children (why there are so many Game of Thrones references the world may never know) while others seem to fit perfectly into the Space Jam world. Some are recent while others date back to the classic age of black-and-white cinema.

These aren’t exactly Easter Eggs—those are traditionally are more hidden and aimed at insiders—most of them are out in the open for all to see. It’s not necessary to get all the references to understand what’s going on in Space Jam: A New Legacy, but it doesn’t hurt. So, in no particular order, here are some of our favorite movies referenced in the film and where you can watch (or rewatch) the sources that inspired them. Note that in most cases we’re including the platform where subscribers can watch the film at no extra charge. They may also be available to watch for a fee from services like Apple TV, Vudu, Prime Video, YouTube, and more.

The Matrix

This seems like a rather dated reference, considering the fact that The Matrix was released over 20 years ago (but so was the first Space Jam, so maybe it’s not that dated). Seeing a few of the Looney Tunes imitate the same moves from the film that we all did back in the day is a little bizarre, but it’s also fun to revisit a bit of 90s lore.

Why you should revisit it: The Matrix, a three-film trilogy so far, is now getting a fourth sequel. The Matrix 4 is due to be released later this year, and we still know very little about the plot beyond the fact that it will take place 60 years after the last film. Since it’s been 60 years, there has been some significant changes. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) has passed away, and while there is peace between the humans and the machines, it’s still quite tense. The notorious Neo (Keanu Reeves! The world’s nicest Canadian!) will return and is off free Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) from a very dull life with her husband and kids in the matrix (Neo, please save her. Save her NOW!). Granted, all of this is based on rumors, but it sounds like an intriguing addition to the series, especially since Reeves has described the film as a “love story.” You’ve got plenty of time to rewatch the first three films, so it’s time to choose between the red or blue pill.

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Mad Max: Fury Road

Considering the success of the follow up to the original apocalyptic series, it makes sense that Mad Max: Fury Road would be heavily featured in Space Jam: A New Legacy. LeBron and Bugs visit the wild wasteland to track down one of the Looney Tunes (surprisingly, it’s not Taz) who has been wreaking havoc there. The gang from Mad Max even come to cheer on their new friends in the titular basketball game.

Why you should revisit it: Mad Max: Fury Road proved that action films can be fun and moving. The film was showered with praise from critics and—despite not being a box office success—was well received by audiences too. Considering the fact that the last year has felt apocalyptic (though not in a cool way), Mad Max: Fury Road feels rather timely. We’re also set to get a prequel starring Charlize Theron’s kickass character, Furiosa. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy (our queen in The Queen’s Gambit) as a young Furiosa, the prequel will follow her journey to becoming the badass she is today. Interestingly, director George Miller actually had the script ready for Furiosa before Mad Max: Fury Road, so it’s time for this heroine to bask in the spotlight.

Where to Stream: At present, Mad Max: Fury Road is only available on demand for a fee. Platforms offering it for rental including Prime Video (for rent), Apple TV, and Vudu.

King Kong

Looking for a bit of fun after his battle with Godzilla, King Kong is prominently seen in the crowd during the basketball game (and he seems to be having a grand ol’ time). Originally, LeBron wants King Kong on his team for basketball, which proves that fictional LeBron has no idea how an actual basketball team works (we’ve yet to see King Kong slam dunk).

Why you should revisit it: Since his initial debut in 1933, King Kong has always been a lot of fun. While he is a cultural icon, it’s hard to deny that the entire premise of the films is utterly ridiculous (I really want to know who woke up one morning and thought You know what the world needs? A movie about a giant gorilla running around New York City), but that’s what makes the films so great. Close to a century later, King Kong is still making movies (and on occasion, helping to save the world).

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Harry Potter

In the Server Verse, there is clearly a “planet” that houses Hogwarts. We also briefly learn that LeBron James is a Hufflepuff (which I found rather surprising—I would have pegged him as a Slytherin). A few of the characters even pop by to watch the game, and Lord Voldemort, who is apparently a big Lakers fan, cheers LeBron on.

Why you should revisit it: Unlike some of the other references or cameos in Space Jam: A New Legacy (there was either an artist with a twisted sense of humor or a very disgruntled one who decided to put the droogs from A Clockwork Orange in the crowd), Harry Potter actually makes sense. Kids actually know what Harry Potter is and it’s an appropriate franchise to feature.

Even though it’s been years since the final Harry Potter film was released (Fantastic Beasts doesn’t count), the films have stood the test of time. Every time they’re marathoned, it’s difficult to not sit down and watch them. While they don’t follow the books word for word, the films are a solid adaptation, and it’s fun to watch the main actors literally grow up on screen. The criminally underrated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by mastermind Alfonso Cuaron, is especially worth revisiting, as it perfectly balances the lighthearted moments of the earlier films with the darker tone of the later installments.

Where to Stream: Peacock

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

In what may be the most random cameo, Bette Davis’s character from the camp classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Is seen cheering behind bad guy Al-G-Rhythm. Her bright white dress and grotesque makeup is instantly recognizable (thankfully she doesn’t try to feed any dead birds to the crowd).

Why you should revisit it: The feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford is legendary; in fact, it’s so epic that Ryan Murphy made a miniseries about it (aptly named Feud). The backstory of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is nearly insane as the film itself and is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t. For the uninitiated, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Is a camp horror film made in 1962. In the film, “Baby Jane” Hudson (Davis) is a former child actor whose short-lived success and subsequent fall into obscurity has driven her to alcoholism. Meanwhile, her sister, Blanche (Crawford), has become a successful actress in her adulthood. When a car accident paralyzes Blanche, Jane is left to look after her, and takes every opportunity to treat her horribly. The film chronicles their fraught relationship and eventually turns into a thrilling cat-and-mouse game. After you watch Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? be sure to check out FX’s Feud.

Where to Stream: Hoopla

More to Stream

Keep in mind, this is just a few of the numerous references in Space Jam: A New Legacy! Here are some of the other films and characters appearing in the movie. All of them are currently available to stream on HBO Max.

Casablanca
The Wizard of Oz
It
Scooby Doo 
The Flintstones
Yogi Bear
Game of Thrones
The Lord of the Rings
Wonder Woman 
Batman (multiple versions of Batman and the Joker) 
Austin Powers
Rick and Morty

And for some inexplicable reason:
A Clockwork Orange (viewer discretion strongly advised)

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1 thought on “Our Favorite Movie References in <i>Space Jam: A New Legacy</i>”

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    Hi Sarah: I just read your palm reading article on Huffpost. Do you give lessons or can you refer people to someone who does? I live in Northern California.

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