'Mulan' Cut Heroine's Love Interest from Original in Light of '#MeToo Movement,' Says Producer

"Having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn't think it was appropriate," says producer Jason Reed

Disney’s live-action Mulan will differ from the animated classic the company first released in 1998 — and one key difference lies in the character of Li Shang.

Li was a key character in the animated film, serving as a general in the imperial army after his father’s death and leading his men into a fight against the invading Hun army. Along the way, he and Mulan form an unbreakable bond.

The film’s producer, Jason Reed, told Collider of the decision to not include the character in the film, saying, “We split Li Shang into two characters. One became Commander Tung, who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui who is her equal in the squad.”

Reed also said the #MeToo movement had an influence on Disney’s decision to reimagine the character.

“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reed said.

Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.

Yoson An, who plays Honghui in the upcoming movie, told the outlet his character is honorable while adding he and Mulan “start off on the wrong foot,” in much the same way Li and Mulan’s characters do in the animated film.

“As they progress through the training together, they kind of have this unspoken bond about it because they recognize each other’s warrior spirit,” An said. “That’s how they kind of build their friendship up, to begin with, through the training and acknowledging each other.”

He continued, “I see this film as a different variation from the animated version and the original story of The Ballad of Mulan. I kind of took a different angle from Li Shang’s character. I can’t really say a lot of how that will come across but there is a multi-dimensional layer to him and the audience will be able to see that when they watch the movie.”

Disney’s live-action remake blends aspects of the animated film along with the traditional Chinese folklore take of the female warrior.


Based on trailers the company has released, the story follows Mulan, the older daughter of a warrior, who steps in to take the place of her ailing father after the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve to defend the country from Northern invaders.

Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential.

Actress Liu Yifei plays heroine Hua Mulan, who transforms from obedient daughter to China’s greatest warrior in director Niki Caro’s film. Yifei was cast after a year-long global casting search and has been previously seen in The Forbidden Kingdom and Once Upon a Time, among other films.

She is joined by cast members including Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, and An.

Mulan will hit theaters on March 27.

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