Just when we thought Disney’s live-action Mulan could not get any worse, its latest update reveals the film may not feature Li Shang at all. For those who may not know him by name, the character in question is none other than the Chinese army captain and Fa Mulan’s love interest. The news of his exclusion come on the heels of director Niki Caro’s confirmation that there won’t be any singing involved in the remake, much to the horror of Disney fans.
Instead of the animated film’s original pretty boy, Mulan will feature a brand new character named Chen Honghui. Journalist Jo-Anne Rowney from The Daily Mirror broke the news first on Twitter, posting what seem to be a casting description for the character. The screenshot details that the actor who will portray Chen Honghui must be in his 20s and speak fluently in both English and Mandarin Chinese.
Just like Li Shang, the original deuteragonist of the 1998 Mulan movie, the new character is also “strapping, cocky, and handsome.”
— Jo-Anne Rowney (@JoAnne_Rowney) March 19, 2017
Mulan Movie: No Music, No Li Shang?
Of course, Li Shang’s absence didn’t sit well with the fans of the animated film. For starters, the last update we received from the creators was already disappointing. We can recall that director Caro suggested that instead of following Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book, Mulan will follow the steps of Cinderella that was notably not as musical as the first two.
She revealed that the live-action adaptation will be a “big, girly martial arts epic. It will be extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving,” Caro said in an interview, per Metro. “‘From what I understand, no songs right now.” This means there will be no “Reflection” nor “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You,” or any song for that matter.
Replacing Mulan’s love interest with a new character had just made people more upset. In fact, one Twitter user called the move “blasphemous.” Check out some of the Twitter reactions below:
— Mrs.Cavill ??? (@Melodious87) March 19, 2017
you can't have #Mulan without I'll make a man out of you
— Dave Holt (@daveofftheradio) March 19, 2017
— Ryan William (@RyWilliamCM) March 19, 2017
Is This Final?
Fortunately, nothing is set in stone yet. With the success of Beauty and the Beast, studio executives may still change their minds about Mulan’s approach. Bill Condon, who helmed the latest live-action adaptation, said what convinced the studio to make the film a musical was his determination and the popularity of Frozen.
And he made the right decision. As of March 19, 2017, the film has grossed $170 million in the United States and Canada and $180 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $350 million.
However, it’s worth noting that Disney’s non-musical remakes did well in the box office too. Cinderella, for instance, made a worldwide total of $543.5 million against a budget of $95 million. Maleficent generated a whopping $758.5 million as well even without any mid-movie performance.
Aladdin is reportedly next in line and it’s in the same boat. Initially, the studio wasn’t going to feature any music, but it made a u-turn later. Lion King will be remade too, although it won’t be in a live-action form. Details about its development are scarce but it’ll likely be a musical considering the popularity of its soundtracks like “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Be Prepared,” and “Hakuna Matata.”
Whatever approach Disney will use for the Mulan movie, we can expect a Chinese-majority cast. The live-action adaptation opens in theaters on Nov. 2, 2018.
Any thoughts? Would you still watch Disney’s live-action Mulan movie even without Li Shang?