Live action Mulan film to not feature original songs or Mushu?!

Yeah, that’s the word going around the Disney studio. The upcoming live action remake of Mulan is reportedly excluding the original songs from the film in favor of orchestral versions and key character Mushu will also not be featured. The beloved dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy is being omitted and replaced by a phoenix. The film is already facing backlash for changing the love interest and presenting a new villain. Disney appears to moving Mulan in the direction of realism, making a film more faithful to the original Chinese legend rather than the animated film.

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Not really. Though the animated original is considered classic for fans, its reception was less than stellar when it released in 1998. After the poor box office returns for The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules, Disney had hoped Mulan would be the next successor. Mulan did manage the make over $300 million worldwide, making it the second highest grossing family film behind A Bug’s Life and seventh overall high grossing film of 1998. However, its performance in China was not well received. The Chinese government kept Disney from releasing Mulan after the company soured their relationship with the release of 1997’s Kundun, the Disney-funded biography of the Dalai Lama that the Chinese government considered politically provocative. A year later, the Chinese Government allowed Mulan to be released but only after the Chinese New Year. Mulan under performed and was subject to rampant piracy. Chinese people also complained about Mulan’s depiction as too foreign-looking and the story as too different from the myths.

Let’s not split hairs. Disney makes no secret of their fascination with romance. It has been the basis for a large majority of their films since Snow White. 1995’s Pocahontas, while commercially successful, was met with controversy when Native Americans found it offensive to the actual story of the Powhatan Nation. So it was no surprise that the Chinese people would find Mulan historically inaccurate. Hopefully, the live action Mulan be more pleasing to the Chinese people and more faithful to her story.

Mulan is scheduled for release March 27, 2020

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