Disney in recent years has taken to remaking the Disney Princess franchise into live-action movies. Any teenage or young adult growing up in the 1990s and 2000s knows that Disney is known for its ‘happily ever after’ fairy tales — from the much beloved Cinderella to the fierce princess warrior Mulan. Disney Princesses represent and inspire many young girls.
However, Disney recently ran into trouble with he new live-action Mulan movie being released next year. One major problem was reports of the cast being made up of white actors and actresses. Many people became outraged, demanding that Disney respect the culture from which the fairy tale comes. Disney rushed to assure fans that the cast will be made up of Asian actors.
In recent years, movie directors have had to be wary of the people they cast. As today’s culture has indeed advanced in terms of social equality, many are still fighting to have stereotypes and sexism erased. Starting with popular media such as movies is a great place to start, as many young people look up to this type of entertainment.
To have a female person of color taking lead in this movie would only do the fairy tale justice. But just as Disney thought they dodged a bullet, reports come that the beloved Prince Li Shang would be replaced with a new character, Chen Honghui, who supposedly hates Mulan until it is revealed she is a woman. This speculation comes from the casting call sheet that appears to not have a listing for Shang, but instead has this new character. Could things change? Possibly, as filming has not started yet.
Why replace Li Shang? Well, from many internet rumors, it may be because Shang appears to be one of Disney’s first LGBT characters. Shang becomes fond of Mulan’s alter ego, leading some to believe he is bisexual. Could this be the reason Disney wants to replace the main man with a character that hates Mulan until he finds out she’s a woman? This may be the case — in order for the movie to appeal to parents and kids alike. However, in a generation that’s ever growing more tolerant, I think Disney could use a change up of the typical story line.