Mulan fans ‘fuming’ after Disney drops character over #MeToo concerns

Executives were ‘uncomfortable’ with the power dynamics in Mulan and Li Shang’s relationship

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 03 March 2020 11:10
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Disney's Mulan trailer

Disney has dropped the character Li Shang from its forthcoming live-action remake of Mulan, because executives were “uncomfortable” with his storyline in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

In the original 1998 film, which follows a woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in China's imperial army, General Li Shang develops a romantic bond with Mulan. The pair have dinner together after the female warrior’s true identity is revealed.

Given the recent stories of abuse coming out of Hollywood and other industries, however, producer Jason Reed explained the company had decided to cut out this storyline entirely.

"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," he told Collider.

"We split Li Shang into two characters [for the remake]. One became Commander Tung, who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui who is [Mulan's] equal in the squad."

Former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose fall from grace sparked the #MeToo movement, was convicted on rape and sexual assault charges last week.

The Mulan remake stars Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li. The witty dragon Mushu, originally voiced by Eddie Murphy, has also been cut from the new film.

“Fuming” fans of the Nineties animated version have taken to social media to express their dismay at Shi Lang’s removal from the remake.

"Li Shang's entire arc is about realising that Mulan isn't lesser than because she's a woman, he learns and grows because of her,” wrote one user. "It's almost like men could learn from this exact story?"

Another said Li Shang was a “bisexual legend” who "would never use his position as her commanding officer to pressure her into a relationship", adding that it “isn't until after Mulan leaves the Chinese army that Shang pursued her".

“Day 3 and I’m still fuming they cut Mulan/Li Shang relationship,” said a third.

See some more reactions below.

Mulan will arrive in UK cinemas on 27 March. Its release in China has been postponed amid coronavirus fears.

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