Disney responds to concerns about live-action “Mulan” script

A scene from the 1998 Disney animated film “Mulan.”

Walt Disney Studios

When Disney announced in March 2015 that the studio was adding 1998’s “Mulan” to its list of animated films getting a live-action remake, fans were excited.

But early, anonymous reports about the development of the project have raised fears that the tale -- based on the Chinese legend of female warrior Hua Mulan -- could end up the latest victim of Hollywood whitewashing. 

In an essay posted on the blog Angry Asian Man, an unnamed writer claimed to have read the spec script “The Legend of Mulan” -- which Disney purchased from writers Lauren Hynak and Elizabeth Martin -- and found some jarring differences from the animated film, claiming that the script’s story centered on “a 30-something [male] European trader” who comes to China and falls in love with Mulan.

“More than half of its pages are dedicated to this merchant who develops a mutual attraction with Mulan and fights to protect her in the ensuing battles,” the post alleged. “To top it all off, this man gets the honor of defeating the primary enemy of China, not Mulan. Way to steal a girl’s thunder.”

Fan outrage came quick following the essay’s publication, but a Disney source insisted that the final film wouldn’t reflect such a take. 

“The spec script was a jumping-off point for a new take on the story that draws from both the literary ballad of Mulan and Disney’s 1998 animated film,” the studio source told Vulture. “Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.” 

Disney has hired “Jurassic World” writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa to rework the script by Hynek and Martin.