I’ve written several articles pre-judging Disney’s live-action Mulan, and after viewing the first trailer, I happily admit that I was wrong. I’m also admitting for a lot of us who grew up in the 1990s that we, as a collective, were wrong. This trailer looks amazing.
If this was a terrible trailer, I would probably be more understanding of people complaining about the lack of Mushu, but as Mulan star and “Feast of Fiction” host Jimmy Wong tweeted:
Indeed! After this awesome trailer, why the f$%^ do we even care about Mushu?! And guess what? As adults, we should realize that the real legend of Mulan doesn’t include a talking dragon! If we’re getting even more technical, it doesn’t include Shang either. However, I can understand people getting more irritated regarding Shang, since he could have been a good opportunity to address the original film’s bisexual elephant in the room. But, as I’ve read, the goal for this live-action film is to adhere closer to the original legend. So with that said, no Shang. It’s only a nice byproduct for Chinese censors that Shang’s sexuality is also taken out of the equation as well, in my opinion.
But on the whole, there is nothing wrong with this trailer. In fact, I couldn’t have asked for better. This film looks like it won’t be an American kung fu film in the sense that it’s just reducing Chinese culture to martial arts. Instead, it looks like a film that will positively embrace multiple elements of Chinese culture. Hopefully, it will also provide a way for viewers to consider their own thoughts regarding Chinese culture and China as a whole, which is still seen in a Cold War-esque light even today, particularly since America is existentially worried about its position as a world power with China on the rise. Hopefully, viewers come away more enlightened than when they went in.
I also hope that the film will give Asian-American audiences the same thrill Black Panther gave us Black Americans. If you recall, the love for Black Panther from African-Americans was palpable. I will speak for myself and say that I finally felt more like a part of the Hollywood fabric, finally seeing Black people on screen do more than just play sidekicks or other stereotypical roles. I want that feeling for all underrepresented people in America. Even better, I want that feeling to become the norm for us.
Last note: I know some folks were complaining about the melange of accents in this trailer. I don’t have any comments on if anything is accurate or problematic. But I will say that Black Panther had a melange of accents that I’m sure some native Africans didn’t appreciate. But hopefully, the accent issue won’t affect how audiences view Mulan when it comes out in 2020. My hope is that it inspires, uplifts, and broadens the minds of its audience. Disney, you converted me–I’m now fully #TeamMulan.