Queer Disney fans boycott Mulan remake after iconic bi character ‘erased’ – during bi visibility month
Disney has finally released its live action remake of Mulan – and it’s safe to say that queer fans are not impressed.
The big-budget remake was originally supposed to get a global theatrical release in March, but the coronavirus pandemic led to multiple delays.
Mulan was finally released to Disney Plus Friday (September 4) – but some major changes have left queer fans disappointed and perplexed.
Li Shang, widely considered a bisexual icon, was cut from the live action remake because of concerns that his relationship with Mulan represented an uncomfortable power dynamic – and his absence is sorely felt.
In the original animated film, Li Shang falls in love with Mulan after she enters the army disguised as a man. Though he was never explicitly confirmed as queer by Disney, he has long been popular with bi and other queer fans because of this.
Li Shang’s character was scrapped and replaced with two separate male characters in the remake – and with that, much of the original film’s queer allure went out the window.
I’m still upset that Li Shang isn’t in the new Mulan. pic.twitter.com/v5jeANDxtE
— Stephen Ford (@StephenSeanFord) September 2, 2020
Some fans criticised the film for its lack of LGBT+ representation – and many were also confused as to why it was stripped of its iconic musical numbers.
❌ Supports police brutality?
❌ No musical numbers?
❌ Bisexual icon Li Shang absent?
Yeahhh I ain’t watching the Mulan live-action remake
— TAM•GO (@CansofBeans) September 3, 2020
Disney: Mulan is here!
Me: YES! I love I’ll Make a Man Out of you!
Disney: Oh we took that song out
Me: Uh ok well I’m sure Li Shang has some great new song.
Disney: Actually there’s no Li Shang…or singing
Me: Well at least Mushu will be there.
Disney: yeah about that…
— Shailin Thomas (@shailinthomas) September 1, 2020
mulan reboot released on bisexual month and there’s no li shang i’m disgusted
— ✨winnie ✨ (@winniethepoopee) September 4, 2020
Others accused Disney of erasing almost all of the queer-coded content seen in the original animated classic – and said the remake somehow manages to offer an “ode to state power” instead.
Yep. The new #Mulan is an ode to state power, most notable in its presentation of the Emperor as a character who is at least as brilliant as the protagonist in her story.
It also erases any *hint* of queer content, including the coded gay romance and drag finale. https://t.co/OwkcuAIdeR
— Darren Mooney (@Darren_Mooney) September 4, 2020
Disney producers wanted to remove the ‘icky-ness’ from the relationship between Mulan and bisexual icon Li Shang.
Queer Mulan fans had braced themselves for disappointment when it was revealed in 2018 that bisexual icon Li Shang would be cut from the live action remake.
Producer Jason Reed addressed the controversy in February, claiming that keeping the character in the remake would have presented an uncomfortable power dynamic following the #MeToo movement.
“We thought that in a lot of ways that it was sort of justifying behaviour we’re doing everything we can to get out of our industry,” he said, according to SlashFilm.
Reed said that in the new Mulan, which is not a direct remake of the 1998 film but rather based on the original Chinese folklore, there would be “the same dynamic” which saw Li Shang wonder “why do I like this dude so much?”
“We have that same dynamic and in this movie, I actually think it plays in a more sophisticated way because he’s trying to befriend this other soldier who is, like, he’s ambitious, he wants to be the best student in class and all of the sudden this guys is sort of challenging him.
“He’s sort of standoffish also like, ‘Hey, we could team up. We’re going to war, let’s work together.’
“And she, because she’s got this secret she keeps having to push him away and it creates a lot of tension in the movie of him being drawn to her, her being drawn to him, but because she has this secret she constantly has to push him away.
“So we’re playing with that as well. And I think we removed the icky-ness of the power differential.”