Photo Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Word just broke that Disney isn’t the only studio working on a live-action version of the story of Mulan; Sony is also hoping to bring the character to the big screen. Movie-goers are already launching a preemptive strike against Disney though as a Petition is making the rounds in hopes of preventing the studio from casting a Caucasian actor in the lead role.
Mulan, a legend in Chinese culture, was a young woman who disguised herself as a man to take her father’s place in a war against the Huns in ancient China. Disney previously adapted the story into an animated feature (and sequel) with Ming-Na Wen voicing the title character. The live-action version of the tale was announced by Disney in 2015, but it hasn’t publicly moved forward with any casting or writing announcements.
The fear of the title character being played by a non-Asian actress comes as a result of several roles in recent years that were written as Asian being played by white actors. Emma Stone faced backlash for playing a Hawaiian woman in Aloha, Scarlett Johansson has faced some as well for being cast in the upcoming adaptation of the Japanese project Ghost in the Shell, and audiences have decried casting Matt Damon as the lead in The Great Wall, a movie about China’s most known historical site. Other movies that received similar backlash include Pan, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and upcoming Doctor Strange.
When word got out that Sony was intent on creating their own movie version of Mulan, it came with the information that they were looking to have a mostly Chinese cast and film in China; no such information came out of Disney’s camp for their version of the movie.
The petition, which can be viewed on The Petition Site, has a goal of 90,000 signatures, and at the time of writing this, is rapidly approaching that goal. Will it make a difference to Disney? Only time will tell.
To be fair, Disney has been making an effort to increase diversity and inclusion in their most recent projects. With their upcoming Marvel film Black Panther, they’ve committed to the majority of the cast being Black actors and are planning to film in African nations. With Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, LucasFilm provided audiences with the most diverse Star Wars cast yet. Disney’s animation side has seen its first Latina princess on the small screen with Elena of Avalor and will debut its first Pacific Islander princess in Moana.
We’ll let you know if Disney responds.