How The Live Action Mulan Will Improve Upon The Original, According To A Key Disney Executive

Fa Mulan holding Shan Yu's sword

Disney has been spending the last several years digging deep into its library of animated movies and picking the ones they believe would be best suited for live action remakes. Beauty and the Beast is the latest example of this venture (and is now playing in theaters), and one of the many remakes arriving sooner rather than later is Mulan. As the penultimate release during the Disney Renaissance period (Tarzan being the final one), the House of Mouse's original Mulan is one of the studio's most memorable animated hits, but Sean Bailey, the president of Motion Picture Production at Walt Disney Studios, already has an idea of how this live action re-telling can improve upon its predecessor.

During an in-depth interview with Vulture about the Disney live action remake "machine," Sean Bailey eventually touched on Mulan, noting how its "fresh take on female empowerment" is important to the studio. As he put it:

Mulan is clearly an empowered-female story but we can also do something new in this reimagining, make it a little more muscular, stronger, with touch of Ridley Scott.

When he says a touch of Ridley Scott, I'm guessing he's talking about Scott's sensibilities with action and excitement, and not implying that we'll see a dragon the same size as Mushu bursting out of someone's chest. Scott's resume includes directing Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and 2011's Robin Hood, all movies taking place in more primitive time periods that were filled with brutal fighting and intense sequences. While the original Mulan was family-friendly, it was also one of the more action-heavy of the Disney animated movies. For this remake, I wouldn't be surprised if rather aim for a PG rating like Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, Mulan ends up delving into PG-13 territory to properly convey that "stronger, Ridley Scott" feeling Sean Bailey is talking about.

As with the 1998 Mulan, the upcoming remake will follow a young woman named Fa Mulan who disguises herself as a man and takes her father's place in the Chinese army as Shan Yu and his band of Huns invade the country. Jurassic World screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are tackling the latest draft of the script, and Whale Rider's Niki Caro is reportedly directing. The article noted that another major way the remake might differ from the animated movie is that it is "not expected to prominently feature songs." So if you were looking forward to hearing a new version of "I'll Make a Man Out of You," don't get too excited yet. Bailey also mentioned that because Mulan is based on Chinese legend, the "idea of working with collaborators in China" is an interesting opportunity. If such a partnership is formed, let's hope the end result turns out better than The Great Wall.

Disney's Mulan remake is scheduled for release on November 2, 2018.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.