‘Squid Game’ Creator Hits Back at LeBron James’ Criticism of Show Ending With ‘Space Jam 2’ Diss

Noh Juhan/Netflix

SPOILER WARNING: This article discusses the plot of “Squid Game” and its ending.

Hwang Dong-hyuk, creator, writer and director of Netflix’s global smash “Squid Game,” is a bit rankled by NBA superstar LeBron James’ comments about disliking the violent show’s ending.

Hwang, in an interview with the Guardian published Tuesday, asked rhetorically, “Have you seen ‘Space Jam 2’?” — a slap at the widely panned animated/live-action “Space Jam” sequel starring James. Hwang continued, “LeBron James is cool and can say what he wants. I respect that. I’m very thankful he watched the whole series. But I wouldn’t change my ending. That’s my ending.”

Earlier this month, James, in an post-press-conference exchange with Lakers teammate Anthony Davis that was recorded and shared by an Orange County Register reporter, said he finished “Squid Game” but hated the final scene in which protagonist Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) decides to not get on a plane to the U.S. to see his daughter and leaves the airport to apparently track down the mysterious organizers of the deadly Squid Game.

“I didn’t like the ending though. What are you doing?” James says the clip. “Get on the flight and see your fucking daughter.”

Hwang told the Guardian that if James has a “Squid Game” ending “that would satisfy him, maybe he could make his own sequel. I’ll check it out and maybe send him a message saying, ‘I liked your whole show, except the ending.’”

James kept the pseudo-feud going, reacting to Hwang’s comments on Twitter in mock disbelief. “This can’t be real right??!! I hope not,” King James tweeted, followed by 10 laughing emoji.

Netflix hasn’t yet officially announced a Season 2 order for “Squid Game,” although that seems all but certain. The show has become Netflix’s biggest-ever TV show, at least based on the streamer’s metric that counts number of households who access a given title for at least 2 minutes. The company said 142 million member households — about two-thirds of all subscribers — sampled “Squid Game” in its first four weeks of release, a new record. (Note that Netflix’s measurements aren’t verified by a third party.)

In the Guardian interview, Hwang confirmed that he’s talking to Netflix about a second season of “Squid Game.”

“Of course there is talk. That’s inevitable because it’s been such a success,” he said. “I have a very high-level picture in my mind, but I’m not going to work on it straight away. There’s a film I really want to make. I’m thinking about which to do first. I’m going to talk to Netflix.” Hwang joked, “It’s possible that I have to do season two to become as rich as ‘Squid Game’s’ winner.”

Netflix paid $21.4 million for the nine-episode South Korean thriller, and the company estimates “Squid Game” will deliver $891 million in what it calls “impact value.” That’s according to confidential Netflix data leaked to Bloomberg. Netflix subsequently fired an employee who admitted they downloaded the data and shared it outside the company, evidently because the staffer was upset about the company’s defense of Dave Chappelle’s controversial special “The Closer,” which among other things led to an employee protest over the comedian’s transphobic commentary.

In “Squid Game,” 456 debt-stricken contestants compete in a deadly competition pitting them against each other in a series of children’s games for the chance to win 45.6 billion won (about $38.5 million) in prize money.

Hwang has said he intended “Squid Game” to highlight the growing wealth gap in the modern world. “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life,” he told Variety in an interview last month.