Who Should Disney's Live-Action 'Mulan' Be?

by S. Atkinson

Disney, you beautiful people-pleaser. Eighteen years have passed since everyone's favorite grrrl power movie Mulan came out, and Disney has clearly been keeping tabs on the movies I stream 'cause my go-to sick day movie Mulan is getting a live action remake. This isn't terribly surprising: this is just the latest in a slew of live-action remakes of '90s Disney cartoon classics, with Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid also getting the live-action treatment. But this is probably the one I'm most excited about. And you should be excited about it, too.

Can you imagine the epic battle scenes shot in real life? They're going to be all sorts of Games of Thrones-esque. But, no, the one thing I'm really excited about is finding out who will be playing Mulan this time round. Actor Ming-Na Wen voiced Mulan in both Mulan and Mulan II, and she did a fantastic job: but now she's 52-years-old and arguably that might make it difficult her to convincingly incarnate the role of a headstrong 16-year-old. Luckily for us, there are a ton of talented women out there who could do a great job. Let's review the options as to who could be defeating the Huns and winning the captain's heart all in one fell swoop.

Nikki SooHoo

The 28-year-old Chinese-American actor is an obvious candidate for the role. Why? Well, for a start, she already has strong connections with Disney, having starred on Disney channel shows like Phil of the Future and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, so presumably she's got a good rapport with all the right people at Mouse Central. She's also an enthusiastic gymnast as her Instagram account testifies, and she's as strong as she is flexible, making her seem like a natural choice for the fighting-heavy role. Her comments under her fitness pictures also have that Mulan flavour of a stubborn pursuit of seemingly impossible goals. One caption reads:

I'm committed to trying to get better everyday...I may not be "the best" now, but I'll keep working at it...to continue growing, progressing, moving forward...and one day, I am sure I will find myself doing things I never thought I could.

Wait, isn't that basically Mulan's personal philosophy and how she goes from being the worst to the best soldier via sheer work ethic? Sure, she's older than Mulan is, but, with the right styling, I reckon she could make a convincing teenager.

Brenda Song

Brenda Song is another actor who has a prior connection with Disney: you'll probably know her from her role as spoiled heiress London Tipton on The Suite Life Of Zach & Cody. But don't be fooled by her high-maintenance breakout role. This woman can handle herself: she holds a black belt in taekwando, and this meant she was the obvious choice to play the lead in the movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.

In the movie, Song has to both kick ass and be really, really funny — the fact that she can do both simultaneously means I think she'd be a strong pick to play Mulan. Plus, the storyline of the movie was eerily similar to Mulan: a young woman gets visited by a Chinese monk and told that only she can stop an evil spirit from destroying her family and the world. Those themes of one girl having to learn how to fight to set herself against seemingly unstoppable evil is very Mulan, no?


Because why do we have to make a story about Chinese people in China so American? Let's hire a Chinese director and get a Chinese actor to front this thing. Angelababy is a Hong-Kong based model/actor who has previously proved that she can kick ass in the 2012 martial arts movie Tai Chi Zero and its follow-up Tai Chi Hero, in which she played Chen Yu Niang, a master of Chen-style kung fu. As the clip above shows, while she's of a delicate build, she can hold her own when it comes to hand-on-hand combat.

She may not have the Disney connection, but she definitely has the fighting experience to make a convincing and charismatic Mulan.

So here's me crossing my fingers that we get the Mulan we deserve: a Mulan that's smart, fiery and strong enough to save herself, her family, and her country.

Images: Walt Disney Pictures