2020’s ‘Mulan’ Has Good Reasons for Not Including MushuDan ConlinGame Rant – Feed


With Disney’s live-action retelling of Mulan on the near horizon, eager fans have been wondering about one pressing issue: Where is Mushu? Well, of course other issues have come up as well, and director Niki Caro joined several of her peers with comments on the film addressing many of them.

First off, no, Mushu won’t be present in the film. After taking a moment to shed a single tear, just know that there are good reasons for this. For starters, while the remake will borrow from Disney’s 1998 animated Mulan film, it intends to take a more serious tone while also drawing from the original Chinese poem, The Ballad of Mulan. The film’s producer Jason Reed explained this choice, saying they wanted a story where “we don’t have the benefit of the joke to hide behind things that might be uncomfortable and we don’t break into song to tell us the subtext.”

RELATED: Disney Will Release More Films on Premiere Access After Mulan

Dating back to at least the 12th century, The Ballad of Mulan tells the tale of Hua Mulan (Fa Mulan in the 1998 film), who takes her father’s place as a soldier. Some notable differences in this version include Mulan’s parents being supportive of her decision, rather than her doing everything behind their backs. Also, the poem tells of Mulan spending 12 years in the army before settling into a modest retirement, and only at this point do her comrades realize she was a woman. Perhaps the most glaring difference is the fact that at no point does the ballad feature a tiny talking dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy.

While Mushu himself won’t appear, the “dragon” motif will still play an important role, as will a new theme having to do with the image of a phoenix, which appeared in the film’s trailer. “So, on the left and right hand of the emperor, there is a dragon,” Caro explained, “the dragon is representative of the masculine, and the phoenix is representative of the feminine. In a movie, in a story that so much explores gender fluidity, I thought that that was a really nice and appropriate way to go.”

There’s also the question of cultural sensitivity. With Mulan‘s story being based on a legitimate Chinese folk tale, a careful and aware touch is required to not only do justice to the premise, but honor the culture that birthed it. The response to the 1998 film was a good indication of how playing fast and loose with the source material can turn out. According to Professor Stanley Ronsen of USC, “Mushu was very popular in the US, but the Chinese hated it. This kind of miniature dragon trivialized their culture.”

So while it may be jarring to lose what some consider their favorite part of the animated movie, what could be gained from more realistic storytelling and cultural awareness may make up for it. With the film being live-action, this sort of change is all but required. Besides, Mushu isn’t the only drastic difference to be had. The musical numbers have been removed entirely, while characters like the villain Shan Yu and Mulan’s commanding officer Li Shang being replaced with ones who, presumably, fit more with the story being told. Also, Mulan now has a sister, which is similar to the ballad. Hopefully all these changes come together to form something wonderful.

Mulan (1998) is available for streaming on Disney+, while Mulan (2020) will be available on the platform’s “Premiere Access” service starting September 5th for an extra $29.99.

MORE: Critics Refuse to ‘Monetize Risk’, Boycott The New Mutants Screenings

Source: Radio Times

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