The producer of Disney’s live-action Mulan remake has explained the reasoning behind the studio’s decision to omit the character of Li Shang.
In the 1998 animated film, he is a captain in the Chinese army and Mulan’s commanding officer, who ultimately falls in love with her.
Producer Jason Reed has offered an explanation for his absence from the upcoming remake, which has been sorely felt by fans.
Speaking to Collider, he said: “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 [Mulan’s] equal in the squad.
“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.”
However, this rationalisation has not appeased die-hard fans of the character, some of whom feel he was removed to avoid depicting his perceived bisexuality.
Comparing the consensual relationship between Mulan and Shang (which is only acted upon when they are both finally seen as equals) to #MeToo is gross. It’s dishonest virtue signaling. Can they just admit they didn’t want a bi-coded character in their movie? https://t.co/BBEhnt7FCN— Colton (@coltonrday) February 28, 2020
Disney: WE ABOUT THE LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION!— Skyneverthelimit (@ArtofLilibeth) February 28, 2020
Everyone: Why did remove Bisexual Shang?!
Disney:..because of the METOO MOVEMENT DID YOU HEAR THAT EVERYONE WE ARE AN ALLY we want to make sure Mulan isn't pressured into a relationship
Everyone: she was nev-
Disney’s recent LGBT+ representation has been lacking, ranging from very subtle hints about LeFou’s homosexuality in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast to a gay kiss in The Rise of Skywalker that was edited out of the film in Singapore.
These missed opportunities seem to have exacerbated fan frustration surrounding the removal of Li Shang.
It remains to be seen what the nature of Mulan and Honghui’s relationship will be, as recent comments from actor Yoson An suggest that it could be purely platonic.
“I kind of took a different angle from Li Shang’s character. I can’t really say to 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,” he told Collider.
Mulan will release in UK cinemas on 27th March 2020