Space Jam: A New Legacy had an unexpected “Michael Jordan” cameo, and the whole scene and gag were made better by the soundtrack.
Space Jam: A New Legacy teased a Michael Jordan cameo that ended up being one of the movie’s best jokes, and the movie’s soundtrack only made it better – here’s how. The Looney Tunes have gone through all types of adventures and met a variety of characters since their debut in 1930, but none of their crazy stories can compare to what they went through in 1996 in Joe Pytka’s Space Jam. The movie took the Looney Tunes to space and brought together two different worlds that viewers wouldn’t expect to see together in the real world: Bugs Bunny and friends, and professional basketball.
Space Jam told a fictionalized version of what happened during Michael Jordan’s initial retirement in 1993 and his return to basketball in 1995, during which he was recruited by Bugs Bunny to help the Looney Tunes win a basketball game against a team of aliens known as Monstars, who wanted to enslave them and use them as entertainment at their amusement park. Space Jam mixed live-action and animation and the story is exactly what you would expect from the Looney Tunes, and while it wasn’t a favorite among critics, the audience welcomed it with open arms and made it a success. Space Jam has built a cult following and is a favorite of many, so when a sequel was announced, titled Space Jam: A New Legacy, fans were expecting to see Michael Jordan back somehow.
An appearance from Michael Jordan in Space Jam 2 was teased by Don Cheadle (who plays the antagonist Al-G Rhythm), but he made it clear that he would show up in an unexpected way, but the audience wasn’t ready for what truly happened. While the Tune Squad gathered in the locker room after a terrible performance in the court, Sylvester arrived and excitedly announced that he found Michael Jordan among the audience, and he was now on his way to the locker room to give them a pep talk. However, this wasn’t Michael Jordan the NBA legend but Michael B. Jordan, the actor, and Sylvester wasn’t aware of that. Of course, the scene was designed in a way that it creates anticipation and doesn’t give away that who you’re about to see isn’t Michael Jordan, and the extra touch of the soundtrack made this moment even better.
Just like the first movie, Space Jam 2 relies a lot on its soundtrack, and for the Michael Jordan cameo twist, it even added a song related to the NBA star to further mislead the audience. The song playing as Michael B. Jordan walks towards the locker room is “Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project, best known for being the intro song of the Chicago Bulls since 1991, meaning it played through Michael Jordan’s career with the team. “Sirius” is part of the Alan Parsons Project’s sixth studio album Eye in the Sky, released in 1982, and it has become a staple of many college and professional sporting events, playing as entrance music for WWE wrestlers, NBA teams like the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, and the New Orleans Saints for Super Bowl XLIV. In film, it was used as the opening number in the documentary Michael Jordan to the Max and it can be heard in movies and TV shows like Fraser, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius.
By using “Sirius” as Michael B. Jordan walked into the locker room in Space Jam: A New Legacy, the writers made sure to heighten the anticipation and expectation of seeing Michael Jordan reuniting with the Tune Squad, and made the twist and the joke a lot greater. Surely, it would have been nice to see Michael Jordan giving the Looney Tunes a pep talk, but the twist of having the other Michael Jordan casually appear instead was also amazing.
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