Time to sharpen your swords and start singing “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” because Disney’s live-action Mulan has finally found its lead in Liu Yifei.
News of the Forbidden Kingdom‘s star’s casting was released this afternoon, rolling off the back of Disney’s first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. It appears that the actress, more widely known in China as “Fairy Sister” because of her youthful, innocent look, will be shedding that image and donning armor to break all the rules and become a Chinese war hero.
The film, which will be coming to cinemas late 2019, is just the newest in a long line of Disney live action adaptation of its animated work. And so far, the House of Mouse has quite the track record of success to hold itself up on. That being said, Mulan may be a hard sell to the masses. Despite the 1998 animated film’s success, catchy tunes and feminist ideals, Disney has always infused its movies with a recognizable cast. This was the case with last year’s The Jungle Book, in which the majority of the cast was voice only, or its upcoming adaptation of The Lion King.
Controversies over whitewashing have become prominent in the entertainment industry. With this being the first announced piece of casting, it remains to be seen if Disney will fill the cast entirely with Chinese actors. However, if the casting for The Lion King is an indicator, both Mulan and the upcoming live-action Aladdin will sport ethnic casts that are true to the source material.
There has been no word as of yet whether this will follow Disney’s newest trend in the making it’s live-action adaptions – the preservation of all the animated version’s musical numbers. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) stated in April of this year, “We’re still exploring the role that music’s going to play in it, but for sure there will be music.” (Let’s hope we can get that wonderful hair cutting montage with the synthesized score!) But do not expect this to be a carbon copy of the animated film as well, with Cato adding, “The live-action is based on that inspirational Chinese ballad and on the animated Disney classic.”
This film is coming at a fortuitous moment for in our current society we need Mulan to tell all of us that as long as we have something worth fighting for the only duty we have is to take a stand.