A thousand cries of protest erupted from the internet when it was announced last year that everyone's favorite sassy dragon sidekick, Mushu, would not be included in the live-action remake of Mulan. With many of the remakes being close-to carbon copies of the animated original, it was fully expected that audiences would get to see Mushu brought to life, perhaps with photo-realistic CGI, but, alas, the makers of the new Mulan have stated that he will be left out completely. Producer Jason Reed has now clarified the reasoning behind this somewhat controversial decision.
"Obviously, Mushu is a beloved character and one of the most memorable of the animated film. It turns out that the traditional Chinese audience did not particularly think that was the best interpretation of the dragon in their culture. That the dragon is a sign of respect and of strength and power and sort of using it as a silly sidekick did not play well with a traditional Chinese audience."
Well, it sounds like the decision came down to China not being a fan of Eddie Murphy's little red dragon, with the producer ultimately not wanting to cause any disrespect as well as concerns over the effect the character's inclusion might have on box office receipts, as well as the offense it may well have caused.
While most of the western world are likely only familiar with Mulan thanks to the Disney movie, in China the story is centuries old and has been told and retold over the years through a wide variety of mediums. So, it turns out that the Disney version is one of the least popular in China, and this is mostly due to the culturally important symbol of the dragon being reduced to a wise-cracking Eddie Murphy character. Li Shang also changed, as the character didn't quite stand in the #MeToo movement, and has now been split into two characters.
Whilst the problems behind Mushu may not have mattered so much to Disney when the animated movie was released 20 years ago, as most western movies were not even seen in China, times have changed quite significantly. Nowadays China is the second-largest box office in the world for Hollywood movies, so China's opinion of the upcoming Mulan is now crucial, and at the forefront of any decisions made by major studios.
Though Mushu will not make an appearance, the trailers for Mulan suggest that the movie will instead feature a phoenix that will fit into the story somehow. No doubt there will also be some Mushu-related easter eggs littered throughout the movie, just to let fans of the animated version know that he has not been completely forgotten.
Mulan follows the titular character who, to save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation. Mulan is due for release later this month on March 27. This comes to us from Cinemablend.