Disney fan anger over removal of 'bisexual icon' from live-action Mulan

Ben Arnold
Li Shang in the original Mulan (Credit: Disney)

The live-action take on Disney’s Mulan is gathering pace, with new cast-members recently added, including Rogue One star Donnie Yen confirmed last week.

However, some detective work from fans has lead to a realisation that one of the key roles from the original movie may now have been axed.

Yen is set to play Commander Tung, a mentor and teacher to Mulan.

However, in the original 1998 movie, Mulan’s commander is Li Shang, who becomes fascinated with Mulan when she poses as a man in order to join the army, train to become a warrior and protect her people.

After showing genuine surprise when she turns out to be a girl, many have positioned – and praised – Li Shang as being a clearly bisexual character in the Disney universe.

Donnie Yen (Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

But now that Yen is confirmed to play the army commander, a casting call for the film sent out last year has been unearthed, which details how another character will become Mulan’s love interest instead, a rival soldier called Chen Honghui, who initially ‘bullies’ her.

“Strapping, cocky and handsome, Honghui is another recruit who joins Commander Tung’s unit, and he’s determined to be the best solider in human history,” explains the casting call.

“Full of himself, with a mean, bullying streak to him, he quickly realises that Mulan is his chief rival, but does not realize that she is a woman.

“Honghui is increasingly peeved by Mulan’s ability to match or out-manoeuvre him. But after learning that his rival is a woman, his intense feelings of rivalry turn into something very different, something like love.”

From the casting announcements and the information from the casting call, it appears that Li Shang’s character is gone from the live-action movie, and thus Disney’s likely unintentional creation of a bisexual character with it.

Fans have taken to Twitter to voice their anger over the change.

Liu Yifei is to play the title role, with director Niki Caro, who helmed Whale Rider, behind the camera.

It’s due for release on March 27, 2020.

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