In the midst of controversy surrounding Lola Bunny in Space Jam 2: A New Legacy, it has also been reported by Deadline that Pepé Le Pew will not be featured in the upcoming sequel. Last week, a few different classic Looney Tunes’ characters were receiving backlash and Pepé was one of them. He had faced negative attention when he was criticized in a New York Times op-ed by columnist Charles M. Blow. Blow claimed that based on Pepé’s behavior toward Penople Pussycat, he had normalized rape culture. Blow also criticized Speedy Gonzales, stating that he helped “popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans,” but he will be remaining in the sequel. Along with Gonzales, Lola Bunny will have a completely different look from the original, after director Malcolm D. Lee watched the original movie and felt she was sexualized.
According to Deadline, even though Pepé Le Pew had starred in the original Space Jam, he will not be returning in the sequel, and in fact, his part in the film had already been axed a long time ago. The sequel’s original director Terence Nance had filmed a live-action scene with singer and actress Greice Santo (Jane the Virgin) and Pepé Le Pew, but when Lee took over, he deleted that scene entirely. The deleted scene included Pepé in a black-and-white scene in a bar. Pepé, being the bartender, would start hitting on a woman at the bar (Santo) by gently kissing up her arm. She slaps Pepé into a chair, and Pepe reveals that Penelope has filed a restraining order against him. Greice Santo stated that she was upset about the scene being cut, as “she took joy in shooting the Space Jam sequel with Pepé, because the skunk finally gets his comeuppance.”
Space Jam: A New Legacy will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16, 2021.