Disney has finally debuted the first official trailer for the live-action remake of “Mulan,” which the internet has been anxiously anticipating ever since it was announced way back in 2015.
On the surface, it appears as though the wait was worth it, but it’s still drawing mixed response.
The trailer offers peeks into what looks like recreations of some of the most iconic, memorable scenes from the film’s Oscar-nominated animated iteration from 1998. There’s the famous lipstick, daintily painting Mulan’s lips. There’s that discarded orchid hairpin. There’s the reflection flashing in the sword, the same one that pretty much invented Christina Aguilera (Fun fact: it was her debut single).
But it seems there are a couple of new and exciting elements tossed into the mix.
In this version of “Mulan,” there are two main villains rather than just one — Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee), plus a shapeshifting witch whose name is Xian Lang (Gong Li) — and Mulan even has a sister now. It also appears that Mushu the dragon is now a phoenix, a fact that is sure to provoke a polarized response.
Most of all, the two-and-a-half minute clip manages to expertly pluck at your heartstrings, delivering an impressive emotional force in such a compressed amount of time that it’s difficult not to imagine what the full movie will feel like when it’s released in March 2020.
Many fans have taken to Twitter to express their excitement over the trailer:
Other fans, though, have lost their excitement over the film’s star.
When Disney announced that Mulan would be played by Liu Yifei, who is one of China’s most famous and bankable actresses, the online vote seemed split. On one hand, many were elated that an actual Chinese actress got the gig rather than, say, someone like Scarlett Johansson. Others looked askance at Yifei’s critical record, scoffing at the prospect of her playing such a big role in spite of her being previously named one of China’s worst actresses.
More recently, this dissent has taken on a political valence, rather than an artistic one.
Back in the summertime, the hashtag #BoycottMulan began trending on Twitter, shortly after Yifei shared her support for the Hong Kong police, who were in the midst of being pilloried online for their brutality against protestors.
Protests in Hong Kong over a now-defunct extradition law have been going on since June, and police have responded by fending off demonstrators with batons, rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas.
“I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now,” Yifei wrote in an August post published to Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter. “What a shame for Hong Kong.”
This controversy has been lightly reignited online, as a kind of “Remember when she said this” underneath tweets sharing the video of the trailer:
Disney is in the midst of a long and incredibly successful remake season. It seems like the whole world went to see “Aladdin.” “The Lion King” broke records as the studio’s highest grossing film ever, and Beyoncé’s original soundtrack even snatched up a Grammy nomination. The time for reimagining the classics is in full swing, and this time around, it has not escaped the ongoing global conversation about identity and representation on the silver screen.