How well Disney’s live action Mulan remake goes down on each side of the Pacific remains the subject of some debate as the movie’s planned release date looms into view. Opinion on the film, starring Liu Yifei, Gong Li, Donnie Yen, and Jet Li, continues to be divided, at least if online commentary is anything to go by. The latest case in point arrived last week following producer Jason Reed’s claims that the animated version’s Li Shang character had been removed from the remake in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
In the 1998 Disney film, Li Shang is Mulan’s love interest and commander. He’s also something of an animated bisexual icon.
Reed told Collider last week: “I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate.”
Seemingly in place of Li are two new characters: Commander Tung (played by Donnie Yen) and Honghui (Yoson An), a soldier fighting alongside Mulan.
Chinese Netizens React to First Look at Disney’s Live-Action “Mulan”
Lee’s comments triggered a wave of condemnation on Twitter, with some criticizing the removal of a beloved character on nostalgia grounds, some angry over the use of the #MeToo movement as an excuse for such a decision, and others speculating that Disney had worried Li’s apparent bisexuality would not go down well with Chinese film authorities.
>influenced by the #metoo movementOh that's definitely the reason! It's not because China will have a stroke at the idea of Li Shang being an implied bisexual person and Disney not wanting to piss them off because they bring the money in ?— Aj (@AaronMurray00) February 29, 2020
>influenced by the #metoo movementOh that's definitely the reason! It's not because China will have a stroke at the idea of Li Shang being an implied bisexual person and Disney not wanting to piss them off because they bring the money in ?
— Aj (@AaronMurray00) February 29, 2020
Within days of the news circulating, the hashtag #MulanDeletesLiShang received over 410 million hits on Chinese microblogging site Weibo.
Some commentators were pleased with the move, feeling it hewed closer to the original legend of Hua Mulan. User 小剑老师, wrote, “It seems live-version Mulan is devoted to the cause of Hua Mulan [Thumbs Up]
Another Weibo commenter, 扒皮鹅, wrote, “Hua Mulan is a rare independent heroine in a Disney movie, and her family values also show the traditional virtues of China!”
Party propaganda paper Global Times meanwhile, quoted an unnamed source as saying, “it is understandable. It is not a Chinese story any more. It is up to Disney due to their ‘political correctness.'”
Here’s What the New “Mulan” Soundtrack Should Sound Like
Originally scheduled for release in late March — but with the China promo campaign reportedly delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak — the live-action remake of Mulan has already attracted attention thanks to the dropping of another character from Disney’s animated version of the tale: cartoon dragon Mushu.
“It turns out that the traditional Chinese audience did not particularly think that was the best interpretation of the dragon in their culture,” Reed told Collider, in less controversial comments. “That the dragon is a sign of respect and of strength and power and sort of using it as a silly sidekick did not play well with a traditional Chinese audience.”
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