I have mixed feelings about many of the live-action Disney remakes. While you can’t deny they’re making the company a lot of money and proving very successful, most of the stories were perfect just the way they were. And with several of these remakes being too similar in style to the original stories to justify their revival, they just feel like cheap cash-ins.
If there is one remake though that I am excited about though, its Mulan. Not only do the wuxia action scenes look great and authentic, but the movie is heading in its own unique direction from a story perspective and telling a tale that is more in line with the original Chinese myth than the Disney animated classic which adapted it.
One aspect of the new movie that I am disappointed in though, is the lack of Mushu, my favourite character from Disney’s original animated version. Voiced by Eddie Murphy, Mushu was a family dragon sent by the ancestors to guide Mulan on her journey. He was not only an important part of Mulan’s growth as a person but also the main source of comic relief whose constant stream of gags brought the movie to life. Something, which, unfortunately, we will be getting none of in the upcoming remake.
However as director Niki Caro revealed in a recent interview with Digital Spy, that decision wasn’t due to them feeling the character was too fantastical for their more grounded story or because they didn’t like it, but rather the opposite. They respect the animated version too much and knew they couldn’t do it justice, so decided to approach it from a different angle instead:
I think we can all appreciate that Mushu is irreplaceable. You know, the animated classic stands on its own in that regard. In this movie, there is a creature representative–a spiritual representation of the ancestors, and most particularly of Mulan’s relationship with her father. But an update of Mushu? No. So, on the left and right hand of the emperor, there is a dragon. 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 might be no Mushu but given that everything we have seen from the trailers still looks epic and the focus on a proper Chinese war story in this film, I am still eager to see the movie. At least we can go watch this one knowing that there is no chance of them ruining one of our beloved animated characters this time around.
Mulan is releasing on March 27th, 2020.
Last Updated: January 21, 2020