While many fans are excited for the superstars from Asia tapped to star in Disney’s live adaptation of “Mulan”, some have been unhappy that the story deviates from the original classic.
Why it matters: The original “Mulan” was released in 1998 and featured a star-studded cast of Asian American actors, including Ming-Na Wen, B.D. Wong, James Hong, Pat Morita, and George Takei. The films follows Mulan, who defies her father by disguising herself as a man and fighting in the Chinese army against the Huns. She is watched over by a dragon named Mushu and a cricket named Cri-Kee.
In the new synopsis for the live-action remake, Donnie Yen plays Mulan’s mentor, Commander Tung, and Gong Li plays a powerful witch who is the main villain. This is far different from the original, where the main antagonist is Shan Yu, leader of the invading Huns.
The issue: Despite the excitement for the upcoming film set for release in 2020, fans are unhappy that the synosis deviates from the original classic people fell in love with. In addition, the only main stars announced so far are from Asia — no notable Asian American actors have been announced at the moment.
Netizens weighed in:
Chinese superstars Jet Li and Gong Li are joining @Disney’s live-action Mulan. Jet Li will play the emperor of China while Gong Li is set to play the main villain, a departure and change from the animated film. https://t.co/mvXGFFzFCk
— CAPE—Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (@CAPEUSA) April 12, 2018
I’ve seen so many Mulan adaptions, so I’m not necessarily omg stick to the original about it. And certainly these sound like changes I’ve not seen before? But equally I was really hoping for an Asian American take on the material.
— Jeannette Ng 吳志麗 (@jeannette_ng) April 13, 2018
gong li is playing an evil witch, donnie yen’s playing a mentor, jet li is in it somehow and at this point why bother calling it mulan?
honestly this could have been a great opportunity for a new asian american face but 🤷🏻♀️ i guess
— Alyza Liu | 无名氏 (@muguiyings) April 13, 2018
I’m also kindaaa ehhhhh that there’s no Asian Americans attached to it yet? Like the Disney animation was a super American venture (and part of why Chinese didn’t really take to it). We already have a big budget Chinese Mulan–it’s called the Great Wall, and it sucked.
— J-Mart (@johnleedraws) April 13, 2018
With the success of @MarvelStudios @TheBlackPanther enriched by #RyanCoogler‘s insights into African American Culture, wouldn’t it be great if we had an Asian American director for #Mulan?#WeWantToDirectDonnieYenToo!@DonnieYenCT @jetli_official, @GongLi_China @WaltDisneyCo pic.twitter.com/xTFIvOPR3X
— Jeffrey Gee Chin 陳立文 (@TheLeapMan) April 13, 2018
Glad the roles aren’t being white washed, but lame they changed the story from the animated version. AND this was a wasted opportunity to cast Asian American actors. But they bowed to China instead. #asianamerican #castasianamericans #weexist #Mulan @DisneyStudios
— Paul Yen (@hellopaulyen) April 13, 2018
So, I’m sad. Mentoring by a dude commander, that’s whatever I guess. #Mulan’s eventual triumph over a powerful, beautiful witch seems to be missing the point. Most of all, I’m sad I will never get to see a film with the wealth of talent among Asian-American actors here in the US.
— Faye Bi (@faye_bi) April 13, 2018
i absolutely love the addition of gong li, jet li, and donnie yet but this casting (including liu yifei as mulan) is catering COMPLETELY to the chinese market. it’s strategic, i get that, but it overshadows a bunch of asian american talent in the us and that makes me kinda sad https://t.co/KGJWZt29Hf
— 《💖Josephine🐰》 (@josephinespeaks) April 12, 2018