Before Merida, Moana, Elsa, and Anna, Mulan was the original Disney Princess who embodied girl power (okay, fine, we like Belle, too). Instead of being a damsel in distress, she cut off her hair, pretended to be a man, joined the army, and saved her entire country from an invasion. And now, more than two decades after the animated film was released, Disney has finally dropped a teaser trailer, offering fans a first look at the upcoming live action remake.
Those who’ve seen the 1998 film will immediately see a stark contrast between the animation and this reimagining. This feels less fairy tale but more epic in scale — think of the Chinese films Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But the trailer showed the themes that resonated with moviegoers two decades ago are still there — familial love, courage and determination, finding your inner strength, and being true to yourself. Liu Yifei, who plays Mulan, also looks convincing as a conflicted daughter who will stop nothing until she brings honor to her family.
While a number of people loved the fresh take, fans of the original Disney animation could not help but express their disappointment at the many changes. For one, they were wondering about the absence of Mushu, Mulan’s dragon guardian who offered comic relief but also played a pivotal role in helping Mulan transform into a warrior.
The lack of musical scenes in the teaser also made fans feel like it was a different movie altogether. After all, it was the iconic soundtrack, matched with Mushu’s funny antics, that made the original animation family-friendly and memorable.
The remake also introduces new characters. Mulan’s original love interest, Li Shang is replaced by a character named Chen Honghui. They’ve also added a villainous witch called Xian Lang, and Mulan’s mentor, Commander Tung. But the all-Asian cast is much-appreciated, and the story is closer to the Ballad of Mulan, a Chinese folksong that inspired the franchise.
Even with the many changes, the trailer made us wonder could this be the Mulan we did not know we needed? Women who grew up loving Mulan (and who probably have kids by now) will appreciate the underlying themes of this movie for young girls. Mulan saying, “It is my duty to fight,” while showing off some kickass swordfight moves, gave us chills.
As we watched filled with nostalgia, we cannot help but hope that girls will have a new favorite Disney Princess — Mulan will bring honor to us all.