First introduced all the way back in 1930, most Looney Tunes characters have had remarkable longevity in pop culture, with an impressive number of shows, movies, and more dedicated to their antics. But while the majority of the material has remained fresh and relevant (I don't think anybody is going to get sick of Bugs Bunny saying, "What's up, doc?" any time soon), some of it hasn't aged particularly well – and that's apparent from this recent news about Space Jam: A New Legacy. According to new reports, Pepé Le Pew's time in the spotlight seems to be coming to an end, with his presence in the new movie reportedly being left on the cutting room floor.
Being a skunk who pursues a romantic relationship with a cat despite being rebuffed thousands of times, Pepe Le Pew comes across as pretty damn gross in the modern era, and according to Deadline it seems like Warner Bros. is making steps towards retiring him from the Looney Tunes canon. The character was originally going to appear in a scene in Space Jam: A New Legacy with Jane the Virgin actor Greice Santo, the setup meant to spoof Casablanca, but apparently the moment was an inclusion by original director Terence Nance (who left the production in July 2019), and it has since been removed by current director Malcolm D. Lee.
The trade report offers a full description of what is involved in the deleted Space Jam 2 scene. The plot finds LeBron James and Bugs Bunny looking for Lola Bunny, and it takes them to a black-and-white bar a la Rick's Cafe that Pepe Le Pew runs. Greice Santo plays a patron at the bar whose arm Pepe begins to kiss, and she slaps the skunk and pours her drink on him. It's revealed in conversation that Penelope, the cat he has long lusted after, has filed a restraining order, and the NBA star remarks that "Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent."
The character has been noted as controversial in the past (Dave Chappelle memorably calls Pepe Le Pew a "rapist" in his 2000 stand-up special Killin' Them Softly), but the issues surrounding the skunk have been raised recently thanks to a column in the New York Times by Charles Blow from earlier this month. That being said, the Deadline report says that the cut scene from Space Jam: A New Legacy and the comments in the newspaper are not correlated.
Still set to feature Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Marvin The Martian, Tweety, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Lola Bunny, and more, Space Jam: A New Legacy is scheduled to arrive as one of the big movies of summer 2021. The live-action/animation hybrid blockbuster will be debuting in theaters and streaming on HBO Max on the same day, and that day is now just a little over four months away, with the premiere scheduled for July 16. To check out what else is set to be released in the rest of the calendar year, be sure to check out our full 2021 release schedule.