Recently, the Internet went abuzz with news that Sony Pictures is going to make a live-action Mulan movie for us diehard Disney fans. Though it's been 18 years since the animated version, I know I still get "Make a Man Out of You" in my head sometimes (don't you?). While a lot of people are excited about it, some fans are wary.
While Disney is adapting their version into a live action adaptation, Sony has also announced that it will have a Chinese partner for their version of the tale, featuring a "mostly Chinese" cast. Since the announcement of both movies, fans have expressed their desire for an Asian actresses to play #Mulan.
Although it may seem like an obvious decision to cast a Chinese actress in the role of Mulan, it is less surprising when you consider past and recent controversies involving whitewashing. "Mostly Chinese" is great, but we really don't want that "mostly" to be all the supporting characters except the protagonist. We are talking about a widespread desire to see a full-blown Chinese female warrior that had her own ballad in Chinese history, and there are a vast amount of talented Asian actresses who would do a great job with the role.
Disney's live-action Mulan movie has gathered enough buzz to spark an online petition that is collecting more than 90,000 signatures to firmly tell Disney and Sony that fans understand the importance of representation in Hollywood. With this in mind, we are faced with one important question: Who should play Mulan?
Here are three suggestions of incredible Asian stars that can keep Mulan true to her roots and deliver the kick-assery that the live action Mulan deserves.
1. Fan Bingbing
Fan Bingbing is one of China's leading stars at the moment, with her stunning looks and great acting skill. She has developed a presence in Hollywood with appearances in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Skiptrace. In China, Fan Bingbing massively impressed audiences by playing a few historical Chinese characters in film and on TV, including the only female emperor, Wu Zetian. If that isn't a show of how perfect she is for the role, I don't know what is. She may look dainty and beautiful but she can play strong characters, so she could effectively pull off an awe-worthy Mulan.
2. Zhang Ziyi
Another popular leading lady in China, Zhang Ziyi may be a little older than the character (37), but I believe she can still be cast as Mulan successfully with some makeup magic. She has been called "China's gift to Hollywood" by Times, so she may as well use that gift, Hollywood. Zhang has also made appearances in a few Hollywood films, including Rush Hour 2 and Memoirs of a Geisha. She, like Fan above, has also acted in numerous strong female character roles in Chinese cinema, making her one of the main contenders to play a realistic Mulan.
3. Brenda Song
OK, so you want someone who's closer to Mulan's age and is from America? Then Brenda Song is your girl. While she is more Thai than Chinese, she did really well in Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior and I think she has the work ethic to play a very convincing Mulan. She also already knows taekwondo, which would really come in handy!
That's not to say that these are the only options that Sony Pictures has; there are plenty of other talented Asian actresses they can shortlist. I hope for the fan's sake that Sony will do right by fans and keep the actress cast as Mulan as close as possible to her origin — China.
Here's some music to help get you thinking about female leads:
Who do you think should be cast as Mulan? Let me know in the comments below.