"I had no idea that people would be that up in arms about a bunny not having boobs," Malcolm D. Lee said.
It's always great when your upcoming movie has a lot of buzz heading into its premiere, but the people involved in "Space Jam 2: A New Legacy" seem a little surprised at just what it is that fans are obsessing about, and have been for months.
When it comes to franchise animated character, like the Looney Tunes cast, it's not uncommon for them to get generation design modifications. Just look at Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd over the years, and it's clear that both characters have undergone significant changes.
And yet, when images for the sequel to the 1996 sports classic first leaked, it wasn't the Looney Tunes transition into 3-D animation that set the internet ablaze, but rather it was the redesign of a character who'd been created for the first film.
"I had no idea that people would be that up in arms about a bunny not having boobs," said director Malcolm D. Lee to Entertainment Weekly. He called the online chatter about his decision to remove Lola Bunny's curves "super weird."
In his mind, it was super weird that this cartoon bunny in what was effectively a children's movie was "over-sexualized" anyway, like she was Jessica Rabbit instead of Lola Bunny.
"Listen, I understand people don’t want things to change, but I think we needed some evolution with her, not by objectifying her but by making her strong and still feminine," he argued.
Zendaya, who gives voice to this latest iteration of Lola Bunny said she was surprised by the strong reaction to the visual change as well, but it's not such a surprise to her.
"I definitely know we love her, but I didn’t know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was," she told the outlet. "But I understand, because she’s a lovable character. She’s very important, so I get it ... She's special to a lot of people and their childhoods and they've been able to grow up with her, so I get that sense of protection."
For Lee, getting Zendaya was a big key toward unlocking the way he wanted Lola to come across, especially to young girls watching the film. "She's taking ownership of her image, her brand, her business," he said. "She's really the embodiment of Lola, to tell you the truth. That's the kind of projection of Lola that we wanted to have."
"They had already started that reimagining of what she was, and I guess there's some spiritual connection between who Lola is in this film and maybe who [I am]," Zendaya said of being asked to voice Lola. "So I felt very lucky that they wanted to do that with me."
"Space Jam 2: A New Legacy" is coming to theaters and HBO Max on Friday, July 16.