Following in the footsteps of The Lion King, Cinderella, The Jungle Boon and many others. Mulan is the latest Disney offering to make the leap from animation to live-action. Originally scheduled for release in March. The film was pushed back to September 2020. And then rather than a theatrical release, it made its debut on Disney Plus as a premium purchase. But as our Mulan review will show, this version is missing something important from the 1998 version.
WARNING: Spoilers from here on out, so proceed with caution.
Mushu made Disney’s 1998 animated version of Mulan, but that’s a different review. The plucky, overzealous mini-dragon created much of the entertainment for the movie.
So why didn’t he make the cut for the latest live-action adaptation? There are many answers, and not all of them have fans support. But a few alter the credibility of the original animation.
One of the main reasons for Mushu’s demise as a missing character comes down to authenticity. The 1998 film was deemed “too western” by audiences across China. This latest production set out to rectify this for all those of Chinese descent who felt duped by the lack of authenticity.
The origin of the tale is thought to have been iterated from a Chinese ballad of the female warrior Hua Mulan. Disney’s original adaptation told a very similar story. A young woman who takes her father’s place to fight against nomadic hordes.
Mulan’s origin is highly treasured by China. So the Chinese population can be forgiven for their grievance. A grievance against a Chinese-based animation where little Chinese is spoken. Where most characters hold an American accent.
Another explanation comes down to the sheer size of weaving such a beloved animated character into a live setting. The logistics of transforming such a lively animation into live-screen would have been some feat. Especially as there is already so much cinematography in the film.
The Directors thoughts
During a footage reveal for the release director Niki Caro stated that ‘we can all appreciate Mushu is irreplaceable. You know, the animated classic stands on its own in that regard’. Caro also confirmed that Mulan’s new guardian would more closely relate to the original Chinese ballad.
So who is this new guardian who is held in so much regard? A phoenix. That’s right, a large, heavily-feathered, soaring red phoenix.
‘Do you know why the phoenix sits on the right hand of the emperor?’ Mulan’s father asks, ‘because she is his guardian. And she is both beautiful and strong.’
Mushu possesses none of the qualities of the new mystical guardian, he is neither beautiful nor strong. But the phoenix is silent which seems to have audiences in a frenzy.
Understandably, both are completely different but fit their roles within the two movies. This review finds that Mulan (1998) is light-hearted in comparison to its successor. The latest adaptation is far more serious in both setting and cinematography. So, the soaring phoenix whose back-story is already engrained in Chinese civilisation only adds to the severity of the tale.
The phoenix also represents spiritualism, as Caro explained: “On the left and right hand of the emperor, there is a dragon. The dragon is representative of the masculine. And the phoenix is representative of the feminine.’
The director further expressed her desire to commit to the ‘gender fluidity’ of the film. This was done by appropriately following suit with a feminine guardian representative.
Although the movie was released via Disney’s newest platform Disney Plus, it has done exceptionally well raking in 43.8 million dollars.
The bottom line? Mulan’s cinematography is outstanding, and the settings are beautiful. All the basics of the plot are still there, albeit without a self-loving and whimsical mini-dragon to entertain. Plus a few added characters, and some originals that now have more traditional names.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 5/10
Thanks for reading our review and thoughts on Mulan (2020), currently available to stream via the premium service on Disney Plus. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our movie reviews HERE.
Read IMDB information about Mulan (2020) HERE.
Hogwarts Houses For MCU Characters
Since its conception, Hogwarts houses have been a deciding factor in getting to know people. How someone answers “what Hogwarts house are you in?” can tell you a lot about a person. But where do some of our favourite MCU characters shape up when faced with the sorting hat?
Tony Stark/Iron Man- Ravenclaw
While Tony could be argued for almost any of the houses, Ravenclaw suits him best. Most of his development comes from the pursuit of knowledge. Aside from being one of the smartest characters in the MCU, he is constantly learning and improving upon his technology. He tends to approach large problems from a strategic and pragmatic standpoint, especially in his later films. Admittedly he can be brave and somewhat self-servingly ambitious. But who he is at the end of his arc and the way that he solves problems points to Iron Man being in Ravenclaw.
Steve Rogers/Captain America- Gryffindor
Is it even a question? Steve Rogers is definitely a Gryffindor. From day one, he has always strived to do what’s right. And he subtly wants a bit of glory for it too. He’s a natural leader and has always rushed into danger without a thought. He is undoubtedly driven by bravery and righteousness and is through and through a Gryffindor.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow- Hufflepuff
Natasha is tricky. She could truthfully swing in any direction. It may seem strange to put a spy in Hufflepuff, but if nothing else, Natasha is loyal. She cares deeply for those close to her and has shown that she’s willing to die for them. Her characterization throughout the MCU has been lacking, but her solo film has shown her to be fiercely loyal.
Bruce Banner/The Hulk- Ravenclaw
Another Ravenclaw. Similar to Tony, Bruce is very intelligent. While he seems to be less inclined to want to fight battles than Tony is, he is constantly learning. His relationship with the Hulk can even be characterized this way. By a desire to learn how to control him, then to understand him, then to become him. His arc is one that is driven by knowledge.
Thor is always looking to prove himself. Even though he can lift the hammer, he is constantly looking for validation that he is worthy. He’s not usually afraid of much, and when he is, he faces it anyway. What makes Thor a Gryffindor though is his desire to be the hero. He’s not in Slytherin because he doesn’t desire to rule. He’s not ambitious, he just wants validation.
Peter Parker/Spiderman- Gryffindor
Peter is another hard one. He’s intelligent like Bruce and Tony, which could throw him into Ravenclaw. He’s loyal to his friends, which could put him into Hufflepuff. But at his core, Peter is in Gryffindor. The proof is in one of his first lines in the MCU. In Civil War, he tells Tony, “if you can do the things I do, and you don’t, then bad things happen because of you. (paraphrased)” He feels that because he’s special, he has to act. And unlike Steve and Thor, Peter is almost always afraid. He faces his challenges in spite of that. And while he wants to have a normal life, and a typical High School experience, he selflessly puts himself on the line. Once again, Peter is not looking for recognition, he’s just trying to do the right thing.
Dr Strange- Ravenclaw
Lots of Ravenclaws in the MCU. For Dr Strange, there really isn’t any other option. He is completely driven by the pursuit of knowledge. And while recognition came with that, we see with his journey into the mystic arts that his true motivation comes from learning. He’s a very similar character to Tony Stark, and both of them are textbook Ravenclaws.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch- Hufflepuff
Like Natasha, Wanda is driven by her relationships. She is faithfully loyal to her brother, then Vision, then her family. She is definitely motivated to protect and care for those she loves. Including creating an entire alternate reality to be with them! Wanda is brave and intelligent, but at her core, she is loyal.
Finally, a Slytherin. Once again, was there any other option? Loki is characterized by his cunning and ambition. He wants to rule. And he doesn’t get there by rushing into battle. He gets there by being sneaky and clever. Loki is a Slytherin through and through.
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel- Slytherin
This may not feel like the obvious choice for Carol, but she definitely portrays characteristics of a Slytherin. She’s the best, and she wants people to know it. She’s confident and clever, and she likes attention. We don’t know her very well yet, but from what we’ve seen, she seems to relish in the attention her efforts provide. She is good, helpful, and ambitious.
T’Challa/Black Panther- Hufflepuff
T’Challa is also driven by loyalty. But while he is protective of those he loves, his true loyalty is to Wakanda. He’s not king because of ambition, he’s king out of duty. Everything he does is through the lens of “what is best for Wakanda?” While it’s a bit unconventional, his loyalty to Wakanda characterizes him as a Hufflepuff.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man- Gryffindor
At first, it appears that Scott would be in Hufflepuff. After all, he is very motivated by his relationship with his daughter. But if he were truly 100% driven by that, he would have made different choices. He would not have betrayed Hope and Hank and teamed up with Captain America without their permission. He also would not have stolen from his company and landed in jail in the first place. But both of those above decisions do characterize him as a Gryffindor. He wants to be in the action, and he doesn’t always consider the consequences. Scott isn’t really looking for recognition and is not that ambitious, but he does want to be involved in the big events. He wants to help people, and he bravely faces battles. Sometimes without discretion.
Do you agree with our picks for these MCU characters in Hogwarts Houses? If not or if we’ve missed any out, leave us a comment below.
Check out our review of Black Widow HERE.
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