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Disney has been taking the box office by storm with their recent series of live-action adaptations of their classic animated films. Now, fans want to be sure that one of the upcoming movies sees the right real-life person in the role of Mulan. An online petition has received nearly 90,000 signatures that urge Disney to avoid "whitewashing" such an important role, and cast an Asian actress in the part.
The petition was started by a woman named Natalie Molnar on the site Care2, and it has gained quite a bit of traction. 90,000 signatures is no small goal and as of this writing, the petition sits at over 88,000. The catalyst for the petition is the fact that many films in recent years have made the decision to cast white actors in roles that were traditionally created for people of other races. The Last Airbender, Pan, and, Ghost in the Shell are all called out by name as examples of this practice. This fan isn't waiting to even hear a rumor that Disney might do the same with Mulan. Instead, she's getting out ahead of it and calling for Disney to cast an Asian actress.
Most of Disney's great animated films are based on classic tales. Mulan is actually no exception. The difference is that the story of Mulan is an eastern legend as opposed to the traditional western stories the studio usually uses. As our society becomes more diverse it is important for everybody to see themselves represented in media. The argument here is that the act of casting a white actor to play an Asian hero has the effect of perpetuating the idea that white people are the standard of beauty or heroism.
It's been several months since Disney announced that Mulan would be one of the movies they would adapt for a live-action version. Since then it, along with most of the other live action stories that have been announced, has seemingly gone dark. Disney has several spots on the release calendar for "live-action fairy tale" films, though at this point we have no idea when Mulan is planned.
We would expect that Disney will probably take this advice. While certainly not perfect, the company seems to take diversity seriously in general. Two major Chinese movie stars were cast in roles for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. China is also a major source of box office revenue, and if they decide not to go see a Mulan live-action story because Disney didn't cast a Chinese actress, it will have a serious impact on the film's bottom line.
Sony should probably also take not of the strong response from those signing the petition. The studio recently announced they also plan to produce a live-action feature based on the story.
The original voice of Mulan in the Disney film was Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Ming-Na Wen. We think she'd make an awesome choice to play her in live action as well. Who do you think Disney (or Sony) should cast in the lead? Let us know in the comments.