Just one week after Disney announced its plan to launch a global casting search for a Chinese actress to play Mulan in its anticipated live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated film, the studio found itself at the center of more controversy. On Monday, someone who said they had read a Mulan spec script posted an anonymous open letter to the site Angry Asian Man, claiming that the script featured a white male lead. Um, what?
The post alleged that the script featured a white savior type, a "30-something European trader" who falls in love with a teenage Mulan and ultimately saves China. Yep. You read that correctly: The white dude saves China, not Mulan. Fans were obviously upset. Whitewashing has been a major concern since Disney announced the live-action version of the film — and while casting a Chinese actress in the titular role is a huge step in the right direction (also, a Chinese actress should play a Chinese heroine), the white savior trope is inherently problematic and, frankly, disappointing.
However, Disney swiftly (as a coursing river) extinguished the fan-fueled fire, telling Vulture that the aforementioned spec script was a "jumping-off point" for a new take on the legendary tale. So, yes, they did buy that script, but they had every intention of changing it. A source close to the film said, "Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese."
Good. That's not to say Mulan should be defined by a love interest, but it's hard for us to imagine a live-action Mulan without Li Shang and a training montage set to "I'll Make a Man Out of You."
Mulan is currently being fast-tracked for release on November 2, 2018.