The Mulan live action movie is what we need right now
Disney is on a hot-streak right now, reinventing all the old animated classics. It is also on a hot-streak of avoiding a major casting choice a fair few films fall into: whitewashing.
Mulan is a fan favourite film in the Disney line up, the 1998 film was hailed for its success in smashing gender stereotypes and having a strong female lead. This was a plot that was the exact opposite of all the Disney princess films that surround it.
Disney states that Mulan in 2020 is about, “The eldest daughter of an honored warrior, Hua Mulan is spirited, determined and quick on her feet. When the Emperor issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army, she steps in to take the place of her ailing father as Hua Jun, becoming one of China’s greatest warriors ever.”
Not only is Mulan great for its strong female lead, the 2020 version seems to have done a pretty good job of avoiding whitewashing.
Even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe there was a bit of whitewashing. In Doctor Strange, the Ancient One is depicted as a Himalyan monk in the comics, but is played by the British actress Tilda Swinton in the film.
Even films in the last decade have made some controversial casting choices. Wreck-It Ralph's sequel courted controversy for lightening a darker skinned princess's skin, The Last Airbender for having a white dominant cast despite the original show having Asian inspiration and even Scarlett Johansson in anime-inspired film Ghost in The Shell all caused a stir with some fans.
The live action remake of Mulan however is sticking to its plot and heritage, with an array of Chinese and other Asian ethnicities taking lead roles.
The plot of the film looks slightly different though, some characters have been renamed or replaced by others. It is also looking like this won't be a musical as the original animated movie was.
Note: some actors do not have an animated counterpart as they are newly introduced for this remake.
Liu Yifei - Mulan
Donnie Yen - Commander Tung (said to replace General Li)
Jet Li - The Emperor
Jason Scott Lee - Böri Khan (said to replace Shan Yu)
Li Gong - Xian Lang (original character)
Yoson An - Chen Honghui (said to replace Li Shang)
This is exactly what the film industry needs, with Disney also putting an Egyptian in the lead role of Aladdin, it marks a time where major film makers are putting an end to whitewashing and using a more diverse range of actors, giving talent from countries outside of North America or Europe a chance to shine.
There have been very few Asian actors depicted in mainstream Hollywood movies. Given the recent success of Crazy, Rich, Asians, Disney's Mulan will hope to recreate some of that magic at the box office.
You can watch the latest Mulan teaser below: