During yesterday’s glorious victory by the U.S. Women’s National Team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, Disney appropriately debuted the teaser trailer for next year’s live-action remake, Mulan. There was a lot to like in the trailer, from the beautiful photography to Mulan in battle, but it wouldn’t be a Disney live-action reimagining if people weren’t upset about something. In this case it is the glaring absence of Mulan’s guardian dragon Mushu that the internet is freaking out about it. Take a look:
Eddie Murphy’s Mushu from the original 1998 film provided the perfect response for those upset by the dragon’s absence from the trailer for the remake. “Dishonor on you!” was seen in GIFs and clips all over Twitter following the trailer’s premiere, with Mushu conveying how people feel about the changes Disney has made.
Reactions to the lack of Mushu and the other changes made to the film ranged from disappointment, to anger, to sadness. Here, one Twitter user expressed general revulsion:
For many watching the trailer it seems, excitement to see Mushu in live-action was waiting for a moment that never came, like Santa Claus forgetting your house on Christmas. Sad Mushu expressed that sentiment best:
The internet lends itself to outsized reactions and that is only magnified when we’re talking about a beloved film from many people’s childhoods. Mushu is a hilarious and essential part of Disney’s 1998 animated classic and needless to say, people were demanding to see him.
Reactions to the absence of Eddie Murphy’s diminutive dragon guardian even extended to those in the filmmaking community, with director Kevin Smith also showing that his famous fandom extends beyond comic book properties. The director of the upcoming Jay and Silent Bob Reboot stressed the importance of the Mulan/Mushu relationship:
Despite the fact that Mushu isn’t part of the original Chinese story of Hua Mulan, described in the Ballad of Mulan from the 6th century, Mushu is for many an essential and inextricable component of Disney’s version of the story people grew up with. So it is understandable people will have feelings about it. Kevin Smith did however praise how dazzling the film looks and there doesn’t seem to be much disagreement on that account.
William Yu also admitted his love for Mushu while appreciating the new direction Disney seems to be taking with Mulan:
We had previously heard that Mushu would be in the movie in some form but more recently The DisInsider reported that a phoenix (Fawkes?) will replace Mushu in the live-action Mulan. After the first teaser trailer, we don’t have confirmation either way. Still, the new trailer looks pretty intriguing in other ways.
Mushu isn’t the only change though as Mulan’s love interest has been changed from Li Shang to an entirely new character called Chen Honghui, played by Yoson An. Additionally, Mulan will not be a musical, although music will play a part. Ultimately it looks like a much more grounded and serious approach (and one that wouldn’t benefit from a wise-cracking dragon) that is rather bold and looks a lot different than many of Disney’s live-action remakes.
Those changes do not go unnoticed though. This is always the balance Disney has to find with these live-action remakes and it is not easy. If Disney plays it safe and does a shot-for-shot remake of the animated classic, it’ll be criticized for playing it too safe and if it makes too many changes, people will reject it.