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Disney’s Live-Action MULAN Casts Its Heroine

Disney’s Live-Action MULAN Casts Its Heroine

Though Mulan is just one of many Disney Animation favorites set to incur a live-action adaptation, the transfer of its story into a new medium feels a bit more delicate than that of its brethren. As such, we’re combing over every piece of news about the production with especial focus, the latest being the casting of Liu Yifei as the title character.

The 30-year-old Liu has a good two dozen credits to her name; most of which are Chinese films and television projects, though some U.S. productions that have to date benefited from the talents of the young actor, who also goes by the first name Crystal, include 2008’s Jackie Chan- and Jet Li-starrer The Forbidden Kingdom and the 2014 Nic Cage picture Outcast. Our American readers may also recognize Liu from her supporting part in Ip Man 3 as Mike Tyson’s character’s daughter.

While Liu Yefei may not have so long a résumé to guarantee she’ll knock this latest role out of the park, what we’ve seen from her thus far is enough in the way of encouragement. But why are we so precious about the project in the first place? Though a longstanding highlight of American animation, Walt Disney’s line of princess movies haven’t always been what you’d call forward-thinking.

The earliest chapter of the tradition dealt in damsels in distress and chronic oversleepers; later variants included incidents of Stockholm Syndrome and verbal censorship. But as time carried on, Disney invested interest in modernizing its heroines, ironically traveling all the way back before the 4th century A.D. in the process.

Released in 1998, Disney’s Mulan became its most empowering adventure yet in the eyes of many young viewers, representing a strength of character not often seen in Western animation’s women, people of color, or queer-identifying individuals. While Mulan is not necessarily canonically queer (and even that depends on who you ask), trust me when I say that those of us young Disney fans enmeshed in questions about our own gender identity found a wonderful kindred spirit in the nation-saving hero.

We’re investing our faith in Liu Yefei, and hoping (despite our regret that Disney couldn’t hire a woman of Asian background to helm Mulan) that the directing-producing team of Niki Caro and Bill Kong instills the project with the right recipe of perspectives to make it as beloved as its forebear. Let us know what you think of the casting, and what Mulan meant to you as a kid!

Featured image: Disney

Images: TWC/Lionsgate, Disney

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