Disney is on a roll remaking its classic animated Disney movies into real-life action movies. The latest title getting the treatment is the 1998 release of Mulan. However, this new version has a few changes in light of the times, particularly the #MeToo movement. The company has decided to cut Li Shang from Mulan, and it’s said the decision was made due to concerns about his character being problematic. Here’s what we all need to know.
The original film was based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a female warrior, and Li Shang was her commanding officer in the movie. In the film, Shang was in charge of training the male recruits and getting them ready for battle. In one of the movie’s songs, he says he is going to “make a man out” of them. He wasn’t an essential character in the film, but he was popular with people who love the original Disney classic. Collider says, “he stole our hearts with his good looks, sick martial arts skills, a catchy song, and status as a bisexual icon.”
Mulan producer Jason Reed explained the decision to cut Li Shang from the film and told Collider that his character didn’t seem appropriate in today’s climate. “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,” Reed said to Collider.
Instead, the people behind the film took the essence of Li Shang and created two new characters to fill the storytelling gaps. “We split Li Shang into two characters. One became Commander, who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui, who is [Mulan’s] equal in the squad,” Reed says.
And this is an excellent move because today’s Mulan doesn’t need that “prince element” to help Mulan see her worth. It’s an old story trick, and while we’ve not met these two new characters yet, they sound like they’re better fitting for keeping Mulan’s badassery center in the film. And some changes from the original are functional to keep the audience on their toes, but removing the talking dragon sidekick, on the other hand, well, he will be missed.
Mulan hits theaters on March 27, 2020.