'Mulan' producer reveals the #MeToo reason that Li Shang was axed from remake

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Li Shang in Mulan (Credit: Disney)

Early casting information on the Disney remake of Mulan appeared to have excluded a key character from the original movie.

And now the producer of the new movie has weighed in on why Li Shang, the barrel-chested captain in the Chinese army, who trains and later falls for Mulan while still believing her to be a boy, won't feature.

Read more: Mulan will be first Disney reboot to be PG-13

“We split Li Shang into two characters. One became Commander Tung (Donnie Yen) who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui (Yoson An) who is [Mulan’s] equal in the squad,” said producer Jason Reed.

“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.”

Yosan An in Mulan (Credit: Disney)

While it's certainly a consideration that a man with power should take advantage of his situation, Li Shang's character has been rather more than the sum of its parts since the original movie was released in 1998.

Because he falls for Mulan, before he realises she's a girl, the character has long been hailed as a bisexual icon.

Read more: Mulan box office could be damaged by coronavirus

As such, abandoning him in this new movie wasn't received well after it emerged when the movie's casting was announced last year.

Commander Tung, voiced by Rogue One's Donnie Yen, is instead the mentor character to Mulan, while the cocky young recruit Chen, voiced by Yoson An, is to be Mulan's ally and, latterly, love interest.

Liu Yifei as Mulan (Credit: Disney)

Now revealing the reason for Li Shang's exit has reignited some of those burning questions from fans of the original.

Liu Yifei plays Mulan in this epic new version of the story, which has cost Disney around $200 million to make.

However, there are now concerns over its box office potential.

It was hoped that the movie would be a smash hit in China, but following the outbreak of coronovirus, the vast majority of the cinemas in the world's second biggest movie market have been shuttered.