Movies

A Child’s Guide to the Space Jam Cinematic Universe

Don Cheadle shows the wonders of the Warner Bros. serververse to LeBron James and his son in a still from Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Explore the wonders of the Warner Bros. serververse! Warner Bros.

Hey, kids! This weekend, Space Jam: A New Legacy slam-dunked its way into theaters with a story so epic it could only be set in the Warner Bros. Serververse, the digital repository for all of your favorite Warner Bros. movies, from King Kong to The Wizard of Oz. On this page, you can learn more about some of the beloved Warner Bros. characters you met in the movie. You’ll also find helpful recommendations of other movies to watch if you’d like to learn more about their adventures before the events of Space Jam: A New Legacy. So join LeBron James, Al G. Rhythm, and the Looney Tunes gang, and let’s blast off—to the movies! Please note that all of these films are now technically prequels to Space Jam: A New Legacy.

A Clockwork Orange

A shot from Space Jam: A New Legacy showing Cronos, a gold robot, dribbling on a basketball court. In the crowd, cheering, are three characters from A Clockwork Orange.
Warner Bros.
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The men in cricket whites, bowlers, and codpieces in Space Jam: A New Legacy aren’t just basketball superfans lucky enough to score courtside seats to the matchup between the Tune Squad and the Goon Squad—they’re also members of a world-famous youth group from London, England! Their real names are Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and along with their “droog” Alex—“droog” is their cool way of saying “friend,”—they went on an amazing adventure together in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange. Here’s a taste of their antics:

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If you’d like to learn more about Pete, Georgie, and Dim, A Clockwork Orange, director Stanley Kubrick’s celebration of everything cool about being a kid, is streaming on HBO Max right now, and it’s very unlikely your mom and dad have figured out how to set up parental controls. Here’s a fun bonus fact: although the version of the film presented on HBO Max is rated “R,” it’s actually the original theatrical cut, which received an “X” rating back in 1971. That’s “X” for “It’s X-tremely important to watch this movie if you want to fully understand Space Jam: A New Legacy, plus also to find out why old people find you terrifying.” Viddy well, Space Jam fans, viddy well!

The Devils

A shot of a cheering crowd from Space Jam: A New Legacy. One of the fans is dressed in a stylized nun's habit with a distinctive black cross on the breast.
Warner Bros.
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The nun on the sidelines during the Serververse Classic has been misidentified in some places as Valak, the demonic antagonist of The Nun. Although it’s true that if you’re a kid who enjoyed Space Jam: A New Legacy, you’ll also love the Conjuring franchise and should watch it as soon as possible, the nun cheering on the Goon Squad from the sidelines is not Valak. Just check out the “habits”—a habit is another word for the uniform worn by a nun—in this kid-friendly teaser trailer:

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Can you spot all the differences between the nun in Space Jam: A New Legacy and the nun in The Nun? If you said “The nun in Space Jam: A New Legacy looks more like a stylized representation of Jeanne des Anges, the notorious Ursuline prioress who denounced Urbain Grandier during the Loudun possession witchcraft trial of 1633,” you’re right! Warner Bros. chronicled Jean des Anges’ earlier adventures in The Devils, a prequel to Space Jam: A New Legacy that the Los Angeles Times called “a truly degenerate and despicable piece of art.” Probably the most shocking exploration of sexual and religious hysteria of any film in the Space Jam saga, The Devils was banned in some countries, recut in others, and greeted with outrage everywhere it was shown. Here’s the original U.K. trailer, which has a little less basketball than the trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy, but a lot more nudity. Vanessa Redgrave, the voice of Mama Topolino from Cars 2, plays Sister Jeanne!

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Unfortunately for Space Jam: A New Legacy fans, The Devils is one of the most difficult to see films in the entire Warner Bros. Serververse. It’s streaming on Shudder, but only in a 109-minute version drawn from the heavily-censored U.S. theatrical release. Computer-savvy kids will want to seek out the BFI’s 111-minute DVD release instead, although not even that version includes the infamous “Rape of Christ” sequence that many fans consider a highlight of the Space Jam franchise. Maybe if enough Space Jam fans send letters to Warner Bros., it will be included as an extra on the Space Jam: A New Legacy home video release!

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

A still from Space Jam showing Baby Jane Hudson cheering on a basketball game from the sidelines.
Warner Bros.
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Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were both under contract to Warner Bros. for many years, but neither Mildred Pierce nor Dark Victory are considered Space Jam canon yet. Fortunately, it turns out that “Baby Jane” Hudson, the aging child star Davis played in 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, is apparently an enormous fan of the Goon Squad. One of the most disturbing characters in the Space Jam movies, Baby Jane’s intense rivalry with her sister Blanche leads her to murder, mayhem, and, eventually, to attend the Serververse Classic as a guest of Al G. Rhythm. Here’s the original trailer for the only Space Jam movie Joan Crawford and Bette Davis ever collaborated on:

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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? doesn’t have quite as many NBA stars as later entries in the Space Jam series, but it does have a signature tune at least as catchy and wholesome as R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” from Space Jam: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture. Here’s Space Jam: A New Legacy’s “Baby Jane” Hudson, singing “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy.”

Now that’s what I call cartoon basketball! It’s clear that Space Jam: A New Legacy is your passport to some of the most exciting stories and characters in the entire Warner Bros. Serververse—just don’t tell your parents what you’re watching.

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