A keen-eyed fan publishing a casting call for Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan has noticed an essential element missing: following news that the original’s songs would be cut, it appears that the character of Li Shang won’t be in the remake.
The furor is understandable, as it’s not just about cutting a beloved character – fans are upset because Disney is cutting a character who has been read as bisexual because of the way he feels about both Ping and Mulan. Shang, Mulan’s commander, eventually becomes her love interest after he has a growing interest in her when she is disguised as a man. Shang’s inclusion would have provided the perfect opportunity for Disney to take that intoned bisexuality and make it explicit, bringing the remake to the 21st century.
Instead, they’ve inserted the character of Chen Honghui, a recruit who becomes Ping’s rival and then falls for Mulan once she reveals she’s a woman. It’s pretty cowardly of Disney, who’ve been trying their hand at performative ‘wokeness’ lately with some strong women characters and one “gay scene” in the remake of Beauty and the Beast, to not only miss an opportunity to make the bisexuality more overt but to cut any undertones entirely. Because films with low-key interspecies relationships are all good, but showing bisexuality in 2018 is just too damn far.
Fans have, naturally, been reacting to this erasure of the film’s queer subtext:
saddened to report it’s basically been confirmed that li shang will not be in the live-action mulan.
the mulan casting call has been confirmed to be accurate. donnie yen was cast as “commander tung,” who is in the description for “chen honghui.”
rest in peace bisexual icon. pic.twitter.com/7El8TDhJg5
— nerdy (@nerdyasians) April 16, 2018
disney: hey guys the sidekick Le Fou in BaTB is gay!! we're progressive!!
disney: literally erases a main character from the series they're rebooting bcuz he was too closely associated w/ bisexuality, making him instead a 'rival' character that ONLY feels romance for GIRL mulan
— A SAFE SPACE FOR BUFF DADS (@xfwipsx) April 16, 2018