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Why Is Bi Icon Li Shang Not in Disney's Live-Action Mulan?

Why Is Bi Icon Li Shang Not in Disney's Live-Action 'Mulan'?

Why Is Bi Icon Li Shang Not in Disney's Live-Action 'Mulan'?

The film's producer explained why the beloved character was removed—and fans aren't happy about it.


Ever since it was announced, Disney's live-action retelling of their classic '90s animated feature Mulan has been wrapped up in controversy after controversy—and it looks like that won't be changing anytime soon.

First, it was the omission of the original film's much-beloved and catchy AF musical numbers and comedic dragon mascot Mushu. Next, it was actress Liu Yifei's pro-police comments about the increased turmoil and controversial pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. And now, thanks to comments made by one of the film's producers, fans are now accusing Disney of bisexual erasure. 

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In a recent interview with Collider, producer Jason Reed talked about the decision by the Mulan creative team to remove Li Shang (a character Disney fans have often regarded as a bisexual icon because of his attraction to Mulan when she was presenting as both male and female) from the film and the reasons why, citing...the #MeToo movement?

"We split Li Shang into two characters," Reed said. "One became Commander Tung (Donnie Yen) who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui (Yoson An) who is [Mulan’s] equal in the squad. […] I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate."

While it's always good to be aware of the power dynamic between two characters, in the original animated film from 1998, Li never used his superior military ranking as a way to take advantage of Mulan (when she was and wasn't presenting as Ping), and the decision to remove him from the movie on that basis feels like a huge cop-out, especially for LGBTQ+ fans who have been looking forward to seeing him on screen.

For many, this feels just like another way Disney is trying to get rid of any LGBTQ+ subtext in one of it's most popular titles... *sigh*

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