I’m extremely cautious about a live action Mulan.
And I think a lot of my caution is justified. Just look at the way the media has already reacted to the news of a live-action Mulan. MTV dream cast Vanessa Hudgens, JustJared’s list of dream castings included not a single Chinese actress as Mulan, and the general Tumblr reaction of dreamcasting the latest popular East Asian actress off Tumblr’s darling show/movie.
And the comment sections on pretty much every media outlet has been the same straight up racist trash equating all East Asian actors as “ethnic looking enough”.
The only dream casting I’ve seen so far that has not fallen into the “All East Asians look alike” trap has been Buzzfeed’s. Buzzfeed is literally the only place where I’ve seen a dreamcast for live-action Mulan that’s cast actual Chinese actors in Chinese roles. And their dream cast is good.
But do I trust Hollywood to do that due diligence? Do I trust Hollywood to not fill the cast with a hodgepodge of East Asian/ethnically ambiguous actors and call it “good enough”? Nope. I fully expect the live action remake of Mulan to follow the original Disney movie of throwing in a hodgepodge of East Asian actors and ethnically ambiguous actors regardless of their actual ethnicity. And while that worked (sort of) for an animated film, to do it for a live action reinforces the idea that all East Asian actors are interchangeable, that all East Asian people look the same regardless of where they’re actually from.
And if we don’t get Chinese actors, I have zero faith in there being authenticity in the movie. I have zero faith in having Chinese pronounced even remotely correctly in the movie. One of the things I love the most about the animated Mulan is that Ming-Na Wen is able to have Mulan sprinkle a little bit of Cantonese into her speech, in places that are emotional and real and it was right. It sounded right. When Mulan talks to her father, when she calls him 爸爸, it sounds like me talking to my dad. And that’s so important.
And frankly, I don’t trust them to do that without Chinese actors. Their track record isn’t good.
I hope it’ll be good, yes, but I am balancing that hope with a hell of a lot of caution, because I simply don’t trust Disney. I don’t trust a corporation who casts the same person to play Mulan, Pocahontas, and Silvermist at their parks as if we are all literally interchangeable brown eyed black haired vaguely olive-skinned women, to show any sort of nuance in doing it right.
As for “how bad could it be?”, I will always point you back to Firefly.