‘Mulan’ Remake Removed the Li Shang Character Because of #MeToo
When Mulan returns to theaters next month — this time as a lavish, live-action remake from director Niki Caro — it will be missing one of the most beloved characters from the original. In the 1998 animated Mulan, Li Shang (voiced by BD Wong) is the title character’s commanding officer and love interest.
In the new Mulan, there’s no Li Shang. According to an interview with producer Jason Reed in Collider, this was a deliberate choice inspired by recent events, and specifically the #MeToo movement. gAs he put it:
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.
So instead there are two characters that replace Li Shang, one for each of those roles. There’s a new commanding officer, Commander Tung, played by Donnie Yen, who Reed describes as Mulan’s “surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie.” A second character named Honghui is “[Mulan’s] equal in the squad.” (And, we’re gonna guess, her potential romantic interest. You’re definitely not going to see Mulan gazing longingly at her surrogate father figure anyway.)
It is interesting to see a film set hundreds of years in the past (not to mention marketed heavily to children) influenced so much by unrelated current events. Will audiences miss Li Shang? Or will they prefer seeing a different version of the material, instead of a rehash? We’ll find out when Mulan opens in theaters on March 27, 2020.
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