Hollywood is known for its lack of Asian representation. Despite taking inspiration from the likes of Akira Kurosawa, or even directly remaking Asian franchises into film, like Dragonball or the upcoming Ghost In The Shell. For some reason, studio bosses cannot even fathom the idea of casting Asian actors for roles that, in their first iteration, were really meant for them.
So, when Disney made the announcement that they were remaking their animated feature Mulan -- which was based on a Chinese legend -- into a live-action version, the news was met with joy but also with some skepticism.
And that fear that somehow a white actor would be shoehorned into a story from ancient imperial China seemed more real when a copy of a spec script was posted on a blog.
The storyline of the script features a 30-something white male European trader who initially is only interested in money and women. He winds up in China for its financial appeal and decides to stay when he lays his eyes on Mulan, prompting him to help her save China in the process. So, technically, his interests don't really change that much.
It's not only whitewashing, but it also demeans Mulan's role as a female warrior, who endures her training and gains the respect of the soldiers around her.
The original 1998 film did not feature such a story arc, it did not even feature a single white character at all, let alone a womanizing love interest whose only motivation is "getting the girl".
But, thankfully, Disney has come out and said that this is not the case.
According to Vulture, this leaked script by Lauren Hyneck and Elizabeth Martin was only purchased by Disney to act as a "jump off point." It has been stated that there is a new script being worked on by writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.
Someone close to the production gave this statement to Vulture:
“The spec script was a jumping-off point for a new take on the story that draws from both the literary ballad of Mulan and Disney’s 1998 animated film. Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all of the primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.”
Disney is also said to be conducting a global casting call to find a suitable Chinese actress to play Mulan.
Let us hope that they do get it right.
Live-action Mulan is set for a 2018 release.