Live-Action Mulan Needs to Stay True to the Original (Asian) Story

Mulan

A live-action Mulan movie due out in 2018 caused uproar when it was revealed that Jennifer Lawrence, a white actress, would have the lead role.

As soon as the casting decision for the Sony remake hit the internet, it was criticized. Then it was revealed that the plot was also being changed to be about a white male sailor becoming the lead to save the heroine and win her heart. This couldn’t be further from the original.

The real story of Mulan is actually about a young girl running away to impersonate a man so she can take her father’s place in war and honor her family by saving all of China.

As an Asian-American woman, the news of the Hollywood changes hit me hard because I have always loved Mulan. I loved what the film stood for: that Asian women were more than just pretty faces, that they can be more than just a wife. Like Asian-American culture in itself, the movie revolved around family. And unlike most Disney movies, it wasn’t based on finding a prince charming.

Mulan was the embodiment of girls doing anything boys can do and I related to it so much in that way. Changing the race of the main characters negates everything the film once represented.

I wasn’t the only one who saw a problem with making Mulan white.

Fans used the hashtag #MakeMulanRight in order to convince the film company to stay true to the original. It must have worked because a source at Disney told The Hollywood Reporter on Oct. 4, that they will be “launching a global casting search for a Chinese actress to play Mulan.”

A source close to the film also told Vulture on Oct. 10 that “Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.”

It’s not uncommon to see whites portraying people of color in all types of movies and TV shows. But this history doesn’t have to continue.

Millennials have the power to take a stand and change these injustices. Social media is literally in our hands. We can voice our opinions and make the media landscape more accurate for everyone.

Mary Nguyen