Disney's Live-Action Mulan Is Just as Epic as the Original, but There Are a Few Differences
Disney is sharing Mulan with the next generation through its live-action adaptation, which hit Disney+ on Sept. 4. Like the original, the movie follows the titular character (played by Liu Yifei) as she grapples with her identity and tries to bring honor to her family in the process. While the story is still just as moving as the 1998 animated film and the real-life legend it was based on, there are quite a few differences. For starters, a handful of iconic characters have been replaced with new ones, which makes the film a little confusing on first watch if you're a longtime fan. Keep reading for more ways the live-action adaptation is different from the original ahead.
The Story Is Told by Mulan's Father
The beginning of the film starts with a narration from Mulan's father. He notes that while "there have been many tales of the great warrior Mulan," this particularly story is from his perspective.
Mulan Has a Sister
In the original movie, Mulan is an only child. However, in the new film, she has a younger sister named Hua Xiu, which more closely follows The Ballad of Mulan, where Mulan has a younger brother.
Mulan Gets More of a Backstory
While the original film starts with Mulan as an adult, we get a closer look at her childhood in the new film. Unlike the original where Mulan has to learn to be a warrior, we learn that Mulan has actually been very skilled since a young age — her father notes that she has a strong chi, aka life force. However, since "chi is for warriors, not daughters," he tells her to suppress her gift for fear of what people might think.
Mulan's Transformation Sequence Is a Little Less Dramatic
OK, so this is a very small difference in the grand scheme of things, but I was a little disappointed that Mulan didn't cut her hair with her father's sword when she leaves home. It's such an iconic scene from the original movie! Instead, Mulan simply wears her hair pulled up throughout the film.
A Handful of Characters Are Replaced With New Ones
This is perhaps one of the most confusing parts about the new film. While most of the storylines stay the same, a handful of characters have been renamed or replaced with new ones. The main villain Shan Yu from the Hun Army is now Bori Khan, who is of Rouran descent. Meanwhile, Li Shang's character is essentially split into two separate roles: a soldier in Mulan's unit named Chen Honghui and Mulan's leader and mentor Commander Tung.
Mushu Takes on a Different Form
Don't expect to see the lovable talking dragon Mushu in this reboot. Instead, Mulan has a phoenix that acts as her guide throughout the film.
There Aren't Any Musical Moments
If you're expecting big musical numbers like "I'll Make a Man Out of You," you might be disappointed. The upcoming film isn't a musical like the original. However, there are instrumental versions of some of your favorite songs like "Reflection" at various parts in the movie, which will surely make you nostalgic.
There Are Technically Two Villains
Bori Khan is technically the main villain of the story, but there is a new character named Xian Lang who works alongside him. Like Mulan, Xian Lang's chi is strong, but unlike Mulan, she was turned away from the ones she loves and deemed "a witch" for her skills. In the end, she switches sides and sacrifices her life for Mulan when Bori Khan attempts to killer the latter with an arrow.
There Is Less Focus on Mulan Finding Romantic Love
While Chen Honghui does serve as Mulan's love interest in the film, there is much less focus on their romantic relationship. There is some flirting here and there, but the end of the film mainly focuses on Mulan rising up as a warrior, not settling down with a partner.
Mulan Takes on a Job as an Officer of the Emperor's Guard
In the original film, the Emperor asks Mulan to become a member of his council, but she declines the offer so she can return home to her family. While the same thing happens in the live-action film, Commander Tung eventually goes to her village to ask her to reconsider. In the end, Mulan decides to take the job as an officer of the Emperor's guard.