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The Real Reason Why Disney Removed Li Shang From Its Mulan Live-Action Remake

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Disney’s contentious live-action remake, Mulan, has failed to avoid detrimental media scrutiny. The fateful movie first ran into trouble when its lead star Liu Yifei endorsed police brutality at the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. Later, its director Niki Caro received backlash for dismissing the idea of an Asian-American director being good enough for Disney.

Mulan Drops Li Shang From Its Live-Action Remake Over #MeToo, Fans Suspect Foul Play

Most recently, the Mulan live-action remake has triggered an avalanche of social media displeasure because of its casting decision. Mulan has dropped a central character, Li Shang, from its live edition, citing Me Too appropriation as the reason behind the creative call. But fans are not buying Disney’s excuse of dropping Li Shang, they are criticizing the for its vague attempts at disguising its own homophobia.

There Was Nothing Inappropriate Between Mulan And Li Shang

In the 1998 version of the Hua Mulan inspired flick, Li Shang featured as the captain of the Chinese imperial army. He started off as Mulan’s mentor, before eventually becoming her love interest.

Li Shang was a fan-favourite character in Mulan, he won several hearts through his charming persona, chiselled body, and sick martial art skills in the movie. And audiences found his dedication and support towards Mulan both ‘educational and inspirational’. And for that reason, they overwhelmingly shipped the lively romance.

Producer Jason Reed Suggests That A Military Commander Romancing A Subordinate Is Unsuitable

Producer Jason Reed; however, does not accede to Mulan and Li Shang’s relationship dynamics. He argues that the Me Too movement has redefined romantic appropriation in films; therefore, having a superior commander romance a lower-ranked soldier isn’t, a suitable visual in movies anymore. According to Jason Reed, Disney had dropped Li Shang from the Mulan live-action to curb all the uncomfortable elements, which in his opinion was the right thing to do.

"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," said Reed.

Fans Accuse Jason Reed And Disney Of Homophobia, Suggest Li Shang Was Removed From Mulan Because He Was Bisexual

While Jason Reed remains ferociously adamant with his point-of-view, fans have dismissed his argument, criticizing Reed for his lack of awareness about the Me Too movement. Fans are condemning Reed and Disney for exploiting Me Too to conceal their homophobia. They argue that Disney’s decision to drop Li Shang from Mulan to make it more Me Too-appropriate communicates a fundamental misunderstanding of sexual misconduct and the #MeToo movement.

In the animated picture, Li Shang had bonded with Mulan while she was disguised as a male soldier, Ping. Shang does not discover that Mulan is a woman until the very end of the movie. And even after he finds out about Mulan’s identity, he treats her no differently, and asks her out for a dinner. Later, in Mulan II, a 2004 animated sequel of the original film, Li Shang ultimately marries Mulan.

The concept that Li Shang actually grows fond of Mulan’s male alter-ego Ping has won him the reputation of a ‘Bisexual Legend’. The entire arc revolving around Shang’s interest in Mulan while she was impersonating a male soldier and remaining in love with her even after discovering her real identity supposedly reflected Shang’s bisexuality. So when Disney decided to omit Li Shang from the Mulan live-action, it foreseeably did not go unnoticed in the LGBTQ+ community.

Disney Found Nothing Wrong With The Beauty And The Beast, But Mulan Is Problematic?

Mulan fans voiced their dismay over Disney’s creative decision on social media. They took to Twitter to list down every misguided relationship that Disney has ever screened. The Beauty and the Beast franchise, which involves a girl falling in love with her enslaver, became a definite target of scorn. Li Shang proponents argued that Disney did not find anything indecorous about a human romancing a monster, but a reverent love affair between two military adults was problematic.

Disney split Li Shang into two characters to compensate for his absence. Disney spun-off Shang to produce Commander Tung (Donnie Yen) who serves as Mulan’s surrogate father and mentor in the movie, and Honghui (Yoson An) who becomes Mulan’s love interest.