Disney's live-action remakes have stuck pretty close to their original animated films so far: Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast were all pretty much exactly the same story, just with live actors and enhanced graphics. Even Maleficent, which offered a whole new perspective on a Disney classic, still stuck to the basic plot of Sleeping Beauty. But the upcoming Mulan remake sounds like it is going to completely break away from the 1998 original. Apparently, the Mulan remake won't name Mulan's alter ego Ping in the movie, ostensibly removing yet another classic character from the Disney animated movie.
According to a new press release from Disney that was released alongside the first image of the live-action Mulan, in the new movie, Mulan will disguise herself as a man named Jun to join the Chinese army, rather than a man named Ping as she did in the Disney cartoon:
The eldest daughter of an honored warrior, Hua Mulan is spirited, determined and quick on her feet. When the Emperor issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army, she steps in to take the place of her ailing father as Hua Jun, becoming one of China’s greatest warriors ever.
This is not the first bit of the original Mulan film that the new movie has cut. The movie is also nixing at least two of the cartoon Mulan's central characters: Mulan's love interest Captain Li Shang and the villainous Hun leader Shan Yu will both not appear in the new movie.
Several months back, Disney revealed that the live-action Mulan will replace Li Shang with a new love interest for Mulan. Instead of falling for her commander Li Shang, Mulan will develop a relationship with a fellow recruit named Chen Honghui, played by Yoson An and described as ambitious and competitive with Mulan. Shan Yu is being replaced as the chief antagonist by an unnamed witch played by Gong Li, seemingly moving the film from the cartoon's war-based conflict into a more magical territory.
Along with Li Shang and Shan Yu's disappearance, the new Mulan's director Niki Caro also seemed to confirm that the remake will not include any music, meaning classic songs like "Reflection" and "I'll Make a Man Out of You" are out. Due to what appears to be a more believably realistic approach of the remake, fans are also fearful that the new Mulan movie will not include Mushu, the Eddie Murphy-voiced dragon sidekick from the cartoon. Mushu's inclusion has yet to be officially confirmed or denied by anyone involved in the Mulan remake, but judging from the other decisions the movie has made so far, it seems pretty unlikely that Mulan's dragon buddy is going to come to life in the new movie.
So far, only a handful of characters that appeared in the 1998 animated Mulan have been confirmed to be part of the cast of the new movie. Of course, Hua Mulan is still the star, played by Chinese actress Liu Yifei, and the Emperor of China will also be in the movie, played by Jet Li. The movie also recently cast actors Jimmy Wong and Doua Moua as Ling and Po, who appeared in the animated movie as two of the fellow soldiers Mulan (as Ping) befriends during her training.
The live-action Mulan is scheduled to be released on March 27, 2020.