A series of boycott have taken action following Disney’s movie – Mulan’s release. Hashtags like #BoycottMulan have trended on Twitter since then, all those are attributed to the starring Chinese star – Liu Yi-fei (she’s in fact US citizen). Last year, she shared a Weibo post from the government-run Beijing newspaper People’s Daily (in Mandarin): “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” during Hongkong’s protest against plans to allow extradition to mainland China.
This isn’t the only controversy that this movie has triggered. There are many adjusted part from original animated movie in 1998 and historical inaccuracies in the 2020 version of Mulan. Let’s see which part of live-action movie is different from the original animation.
The comparison between Mulan 1998 and Mulan 2020
Just like the original animated movie in 1998, the live-action “Mulan” is based on the Chinese legend of warrior Hua Mulan. Mulan is based on an ancient Chinese folk story called “The Ballad of Mulan” created in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534AD).
The 2020 live-action remake Mulan seems much closer to “The Ballad of Mulan”, the scene of two rabbits running side by side is actually demonstrating the final lines in the ballad.
The he-hare's feet go hop and skip,
The she-hare's eyes are muddled and fuddled.
Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?
2. Disney princess or Marvel Hero
The 2020 version of Mulan wields the power of “Chi” and feels more like a superhero than a Disney princess.
3. “Hua” and “Fa”
In the 1998 version, Mulan’s family name is “Fa”, but in the 2020 movie it changed to “Hua”. Fa is actually the Cantonese verison of Hua. In the original ballad Mulan is also named Hua, the meaning of Hua is flower. Moreover, Mulan claimed herself name as “Ping” in 1998 but “Jun” in 2020.
Chickens are appeared in both versions. In the animated movie, Mulan’s dog “Little Boy” is the one who caused the chickens chaos. There is no dog but Mulan herself chase after the chickens in the live-action movie.
5. Cri-Kee vs. Cricket
Cri-Kee was a gift from Mulan’s grandmother for bringing good luck in the animated film. In the live-action film, there isn’t grandmother, therefore, there is no Cri-Kee either. Mulan leads to chaos at the matchmaker’s by revealing a spider underneath the teapot instead. However, there is a character called Cricket, a fellow army recruit whose mother says he’s a good-luck charm. And he also helps Mulan out at some key moments.
6. Mushu (Dragon) vs. Phoenix
In Chinese tradition, the phoenix is often regarded as a symbol of female power, on the other hand, dragon is actually mythological creature of emperor. Although the 2020 version has lost the iconic character of Mushu, his replacement with the phoenix might be better.
7. Li Shang split into two characters
Li Shang doesn’t exist in the new movie. This character splits into two man, Honghui, Mulan’s colleague, and her Commander Tung.
The producer Jason Reed said that they didn’t think it would be appropriate for Mulan to engage in a relationship with her direct superior. “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,” Reed said.
8. Shan Yu (the Rouran) vs. Rouran (the Hun)
The villains in the animated film were Huns, led by Shan Yu, but this is not historically accurate. The Huns has actually never attacked China; they are often mistaken for Xiongnu, nomadic people who lived north of China’s borders. Shan Yu has been replaced by Bori Khan and his Rouran fighters. The Rourans is active during the 5th century A.D. with Northern Wei dynasty, which is a historical fact.
9. New character: Witch or Hawk?
The brand new character Xian Niang from the 2020 live-action movie, a “witch” who’s an ally of the Rouran army. She can shapeshift into hawk, which looks similar to Shan Yu’s falcon in the 1998 version.
Unlike Mulan, Xian Niang is a woman who wasn’t afraid to hide her Chi. As a result, she was exiled from her people and decided to join Bori Khan as a way to gain respect.
10. Musical or not?
In general, Disney’s remakes such as Beauty and the beast, Aladdin and The Lion King are musicals. In live-action Mulan movie, they chose to move away from musical genre. Most of the theme songs are paid tributes as instrumental backgrounds or similar dialogues.
The Historical Inaccuracies of Mulan Movies
The Cannon of 1998 Version
The cannons that play a key role in the animated film between the Huns and the Chinese Army. Dynamite is actually invented in Song dynasty (960–1279AD) which it shouldn’t exist in Mulan’s era (386–534AD).
The Architecture of 2020 Version
In the 2020 live-action movie, Mulan lives in a round “tulou” house. Tulou is a traditional communal living structure of the Hakka people unique to coastal, southern Fujian province that became widespread in the much later Ming dynasty — more than a thousand years later than Mulan’s era.