While Mulan is all grown up and saving China, Mushu will be sitting this remake out.
As Disney fans well know, the long-anticipated live-action remake of Disney's 1998 animated classic is finally coming out on Friday, Sept. 4 after a series of postponements and rescheduling amid the coronavirus pandemic. In these socially distant times, Disney has decided to make the film available to rent on its Disney+ streaming service in addition to markets where movie theaters are open.
No matter where fans see the film on Friday, Mulan's 1998 sidekick won't be making an appearance. Anyone familiar with the animated original will remember the pint-sized dragon, voiced by Eddie Murphy, who served as her hilarious, mishap-ridden guardian throughout the movie. However, as director Niki Caro explained to USA Today, Mushu was more of an inspiration than a real-life necessity for her new rendition.
"We were very inspired by what Mushu brought to the animation," she told the outlet, "which was the humor and the levity, and the challenge was to bring that to Mulan's real relationships with her fellow soldiers."
"Mushu, beloved as that character is in the animation, was Mulan's confidante and part of bringing it into live action is to commit to the realism of her journey and she had to make those relationships with her fellow soldiers," Caro elaborated. "So, there was certainly a lot to work with in that department."
Mushu's absence is not breaking news, however. In January, Caro confirmed the character would not be coming back to the silver screen in this version.
"I think we can all appreciate that Mushu is irreplaceable," she told press at the time. "You know, the animated classic stands on its own in that regard. In this movie, there is a creature representative—a spiritual representation of the ancestors, and most particularly of Mulan's relationship with her father...But an update of Mushu? No."
Though he served as comedic relief to American viewers, Mushu was not as beloved in China, where the story takes place. "Mushu was very popular in the U.S., but the Chinese hated it," Professor Stanley Rosen previously told The Hollywood Reporter. "This kind of miniature dragon trivialized their culture."
In just a matter of hours, viewers will be introduced to a new take on the story with actress Liu Yifei at the helm as the new Mulan. And, judging by the reviews from March, she was meant to play this part.