Space Jam earned mixed reviews when it opened back in 1996, with film critics and many oldschool animation fans responding quizzically to the live-action/cartoon hybrid – based on a series of commercials from several years prior. The film was nonetheless a box office hit and became a mainstay for Millennial VHS collections, with an entire generation regarding the film as an offbeat nostalgic classic that outlived even the onetime mega-popularity of star Michael Jordan.
Now, while rumors of a sequel continue to swirl, a quirky new ad campaign for Foot Locker brings the film’s villains – “The Monstars” – back to life to face new generation of basketball heroes. The original film (inspired by a 1993 Nike commercial series featuring Jordan and Bugs Bunny) is a cross between an animated family-comedy and fictionalized biography of Jordan’s real-life return to the NBA; imagining that he was transported to the world of Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes to help train a team of classic cartoon characters for a game against a team of aliens who seek to imprison them.
To compete, said aliens steal the basketball-playing abilities from various other NBA players, transforming them into giant creatures referred to as The Monstars. In the new ads (which appear to repurpose some of the original animation from the movie), The Monstars return in their powered-up forms and launch an assault on the modern-day world of basketball, defeating challengers and also locking a group of youngsters in an unidentified city out of their local court.
However, Bugs Bunny emerges from a nearby Foot Locker to outfit the team with new gear (chiefly sneakers from the most recent “XXXI” update of the revived Air Jordan line) and a new Team Captain in NBA star Blake Griffin – who has appeared in Space Jam-themed ads before and has been suggested by Jordan as the heir-apparent to his role.
A sequel to Space Jam, once strictly the subject of parody, has gained traction in recent years as the generation who grew up on it has reached early adulthood. Current NBA superstar Lebron James has frequently expressed interest in filling Jordan’s shoes as human captain of The Toon Squad, though no official green light has been given to any project – and no indication has been made as to what the premise might be or whether The Monstars would return as villains. While not as famous as the hero characters, the Monstars have had a surprising life beyond Space Jam itself, thanks to the longstanding popularity of their theme song as entrance-music for youth sporting events.
Source: Foot Locker