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The Live Action Mulan Isn’t A Remake— And That’s A Good Thing

The Live Action Mulan Isn’t A Remake— And That’s A Good Thing

The live action Mulan trailer has dropped and people have noticed a few things. Mushu and Shang aren’t really in it, and it looks like it may have watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a few too many times.

And it’s great. Instead of the paint-by-numbers “adaptations” Disney has been churning out, Mulan seems to be the first one that is bucking off its animated source material in favor of something different. Along with the casting of actress/singer Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Disney seems to be course correcting towards re-dos instead of remakes.

The new Mulan seems to be going back to its roots and making a movie not primarily for its American audience that grew up with the animated version, but for its Chinese audience as well.

While inclusivity may have been part of Disney’s aim, the potential of China’s box office can’t be ignored. As important as respecting a people’s culture and story is, there is a financial incentive to go along with it. And that isn’t a bad thing either, especially since the casting of Halle Bailey has sparked a racial backlash.

The financial aspect is important because without the major box office success of films like Black Panther, Get Out, Crazy Rich Asians, and Searching it’s possible that Disney wouldn’t have cast a black woman as Ariel. From the massively profitable Beauty and the Beast to the recent Aladdin, there’s been a notable drop-off in box office success and film quality.

While none of the recent Disney remakes have been box office bombs, one only needs to look at Dumbo to see that not all remakes are made equal. But let’s hope that Disney is also realizing that diversity doesn’t just mean casting a POC in a main role. Diversity is about culture.

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Disney is a cultural landmark, and is one of the only media companies that can boast of creating a global culture around its films. While Halle Bailey continues to inspire and encourage young black women, it’ll also shift cultural paradigms of not just who gets to sit at the table, but how. Time will tell if The Little Mermaid will succeed, but it’s already having a cultural impact and Disney is hoping that will translate to dollars.

With The Lion King set to release to massive expectations, one can’t help but think about the powerhouse performers cast in the main roles. Donald Glover and Beyonce aren’t just famous within the black community, but are becoming American icons if they haven’t already. Disney knows that.

While the cynic in me doubts that Disney cares about anything other than money, I want to believe that they’re trying to do something right. Regardless of whether Disney cares or not, they’ve played a part in shaping every childhood in the past century.

Here’s hoping that by respecting people and stories of all cultures, Disney will bring honor to us all.

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