Shang might not be in the live-action "Mulan" and this is a PROBLEM
Last week, we learned that Disney was planning to release their upcoming live-action Mulan on November 2nd, 2018. Though literally two years away, we’re already daydreaming about seeing Mulan save China, again, up on the big screen.
Like many other of Disney’s live-action remakes, we just assumed that this one would still follow roughly the same Mulan story we know and love. You know: Girl wants to save her father, so girl joins the army in his place. Then, girl saves the day, and the entire country is like “YOU GO GIRL.” That’s the Mulan movie we want to see! That’s probably the Mulan movie we will see, but supposedly one key player is going to be left out: Shang.
Supposedly, the Mulan script Disney purchased (written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin) has swapped Shang out for a 30-something European merchant who just happens to find himself in China and suddenly finds himself helping Mulan save china. And its a white 30-something European merchant. Oh boy, and also oh no.
There’s been a huge increase of whitewashing in Hollywood lately (see: The Ghost In the Shell) and judging from this script, it might happen in Mulan, too. The blog Angry Asian Man first brought this to our attention, and as you can imagine, Twitter was like “oh hell no.” (Also, even worse, the film might have this white dude saving China, NOT Mulan)
This leading male swap is bummer news, especially coming after the recent push to get Asian actors front and center (Pretty sure John Cho would make a GREAT Shang).
All hope might not be lost, though, because Disney has hired two new writers to polish up the original script — Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who wrote Jurassic World together — and hopefully they’ll fix this huge Shang problem, and make the DIVERSE Mulan we want to see.
Update: Since publishing, a source close to the live-action Mulan production reached out to Vulture and explained that the film will include an all-Asian cast: “The spec script was a jumping-off point for a new take on the story that draws from both the literary ballad of Mulan and Disney’s 1998 animated film. Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.”
Disney has yet to comment on the Mulan movie, or the casting, yet. We’ll keep you posted.