The director of Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Mulan believes that of all the princesses, Mulan is the best because of her defiance of the society’s expectations. The film is set to hit the big screen in November 2018, two decades after the release of its animated version which quickly became a summer blockbuster.
“My intention is for it to stand alongside these amazing reboots of classic animations like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella,” Niki Caro told Yahoo Movies. “The princess movies have a new relevance, and of all the princesses, Mulan is the best one. She’s kick-a**, and I love her.”
In the original version, Ming-Na Wen served as the titular character’s voice while Eddie Murphy gave life to her dragon sidekick, Mushu. Even if Mulan hasn’t finalized its casting yet, Caro wants to film most of the scenes in China.
“Nothing is as good as a real landscape, and China has extraordinary landscapes. I’m really looking forward to that, but to also bring visual effects and magic to that [landscape] makes it a great challenge. It will allow me to flex my filmmaking muscles on a much bigger scale. I’m sure it will be a great joy.”
The filmmaker previously told Screencrush that the budget for Mulan will allow them to create “an incredible, muscular piece of girly martial arts extravaganza in China.”
Prior to agreeing to do the live action remake of the Chinese lore, Caro already worked on several films about women who stood for their beliefs. Her film North Country, which featured Charlize Theron, is about a mine worker who initiates a campaign to oppose the rampant sexual harassment at her workplace.
Caro’s most recent work, The Zookeeper’s Wife, is based on the tale of Antonina Żabiński who used Poland’s Warsaw Zoo to save Jews from the atrocities of the Nazi soldiers during World War II.
It’s still early stages for Mulan, but the project has already faced a string of criticisms especially from loyalists of the original version. When it was reported that the live-action film wouldn’t incorporate the songs found in the animated film, some weren’t too pleased.
mulan did not break gender roles and save her whole country for this mess. pic.twitter.com/KydLQsGgBx— dead boyfriend (@unsmokabIe) March 20, 2017
Part of the original version’s charm is its array of iconic songs like “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” Some fans find it unfair that Beauty and the Beast was given the green light to retain its music. Director Bill Condon revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that their determination to make Beauty and the Beast a musical was inspired by the success of Frozen.
Caro went on to clarify that “no decision has been made” yet despite her previous statement that there are “no songs right now, much to the horror of my children.”
A few months ago, the line “Make Mulan Right” went viral after it was rumored that the new Mulan would “whitewash” some of its main characters. As per an alleged screenplay leaked by the Angry Asian Man website, the remake won’t solely revolve around Mulan’s fight for her country. The new tale will allegedly follow Mulan’s romantic story with a “white” leading man.
The blogger warned Disney to remain loyal to its source material unless they are ready to face an “avalanche of backlash.”
Whitewashing remains a controversial theme in Hollywood. It gives the idea that valued cultural stories cannot be appealing without a Western character.
Following the strong reactions about the possible whitewashing of the tale, Disney told Vanity Fair that the screenplay was created for the mere purpose of speculation. “Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese,” read the statement.
[Featured Image by Walt Disney Pictures]