After being delayed almost six months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Disney’s live-action Mulan is now available to stream on Disney Plus for $29.99. Mulan is one of my favorite films and I've been anxiously awaiting the live-action release for years. I know fans have been up in arms with the announcements of no Mushu, Li Shang, or the inclusion of any of the classic music from the 1998 animated version we all know and love in this retelling of the story. What people may not realize though is that the story of Mulan has been changed and reinvented for hundreds of years.
The story of Mulan dates all the way back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 AD) when "The Ballad of Mulan" was released and told the story of a girl who takes her father’s place in the war, fighting as a man for years before returning home to her family. In this telling, Mulan has siblings and no love interest, which seems to be similar to the route that the live-action film is taking by giving Mulan a sister and taking away the character of Shang.
During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), a play called Mulan Joins the Army was written, which introduced a cousin of Mulan’s named Mushu who refused to take his uncle’s place in the war, causing Mulan to do it herself.
It wasn’t until the fall of Imperial China in 1912 that the story of Mulan began traveling west and getting adapted in other cultures. The first film adaptation of Mulan was released in 1939 and was called Mulan Joins the Army, becoming the first retelling to introduce romance into the story. In 1976, Mulan reached a well-known status in the United States with the release of the novel The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston.
There are dozens of stories starring Mulan and her story of dressing like a man and fighting for China. It's a hard blow to lose so many amazing elements of the Disney animated version, especially with them directing this retelling as well, but it looks like they are bringing more classic elements of her story to life in this film.
I personally do not have plans on paying the $30 to watch the live-action Mulan, but what about you guys? I hope it gets the big-screen release that this epic heroine deserves, and I cannot wait to see what elements from all the renditions of her story are used.