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Will Li Shang Be in Disney's Live-Action Mulan?

How the Me Too Movement Influenced Disney to Cut Li Shang's Character From Live-Action Mulan

MULAN, Mulan (left, voice: Ming-Na), Shang, (center, voice: B.D. Wong), 1998. Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Disney is getting ready to release its live-action version of Mulan, but there is one character who won't be making an appearance: Li Shang. While the character serves as Mulan's commander-turned-love-interest in the original, he will not be in the reboot. Instead, the character will be split into two parts with Donnie Yen playing Commander Tung and Yoson An playing a soldier named Chen Honghui, who will act as Mulan's love interest.

So, what is the reason for the switch-up? The film's producer Jason Reed said the #MeToo movement heavily influenced their decision to reimagine the character. "We split Li Shang into two characters. One became Commander Tung, who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui who is her equal in the squad," he told Collider. "I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn't think it was appropriate."

Just as Mulan and Li Shang's characters start off on the wrong foot in the animated film, Honghui's relationship with Mulan in the live-action movie will be a slow burn. "As they progress through the training together, they kind of have this unspoken bond about it because they recognize each other's warrior spirit," the New Zealand actor said about his character. "That's how they kind of build their friendship up, to begin with, through the training and acknowledging each other."

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"I see this film as a different variation from the animated version and the original story of The Ballad of Mulan," An continued. "I kind of took a different angle from Li Shang's character. I can't really say a lot of how that will come across but there is a multi-dimensional layer to him and the audience will be able to see that when they watch the movie."

Alas, it seems like this isn't the only change the new film will make. While the original film's antagonist was Shan Yu, the king of the Huns, the live-action version is adding a new character. Actress Gong Li has been cast as a powerful witch who will act as the main villain. Be sure to see Mulan in action when the film hits theatres on March 27.

Image Source: Everett Collection
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