Petition Against Disney Whitewashing Live-Action ‘Mulan’ Nears Goal


A live-action adaptation of the Disney animated film, Mulan is in development. The Chinese legend of Hua Mulan is a story that is truly cinematic, and the prospect of Disney giving the 1998 animated film the live-action treatment would be so exciting, and not only could it translate well in this format, but it would also give Disney the opportunity to produce a film with the prominent Asian cast that it needs.

Disney has been on a roll with their live-action adaptations of their classic animated movies. Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and most recently, Pete’s Dragon have really made waves with both critics and audiences. Each of these films pay beautiful homage to their original films while also being blessed with some incredible modern technology that graces these films with such a timelessness.

A live-action Mulan is something that many fans would love to see, but there seems to be a permeating fear amongst many. Knowing Hollywood’s bad reputation of casting white actors/actresses in minority roles – especially Asian ones is leaving fans concerned about Disney’s casting for this movie. In fact, a petition has made the waves on the internet, calling on Disney not to whitewash the Mulan ensemble. This petition is also extremely close to reaching its goal of 90,000 signatures.

The whitewashing of Asian roles in Hollywood has been a major hot-button issue this year, with films like Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell catching flack for their casting of Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson respectively. It’s hard enough to be an Asian actor/actress in the industry, because roles are quite scarce be it a prominent role, or a minor supporting character. Lack of representation has become so apparent that some actors are now campaigning for potential roles for more visibility. Recently, Asian-American actor Ryan Potter released a concept video to potentially play Robin alongside Ben Affleck’s Batman in the DC Extended Universe.

There is such a distinct lack of prominent Asian roles in big-budget blockbuster productions that we have now reached a point where performers are speaking out to spread awareness about this issue. I even wrote an article proposing 10 Asian actors who could potentially play Namor for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, the usual excuse to avoid the uncomfortable conversation about diversity in film is to “choose the best actor/actress for the role,” which is a fallacy. In a perfect world, that would be the case – but look at where we are: we still have a long way to go.

Thankfully, many filmmakers are beginning to understand the significance of having more men and women of color represented in these productions, especially with these blockbusters featuring heroes. That way, when children watch these movies, anyone can find a hero that represents them on a cultural level.

Also, how many nonwhite female action heroes can you think of at the top of your head? Not a lot. And for all the talk about more prominent roles for women in film, women of color are continually being ignored. Sure, progress is happening with baby steps, and we are seeing more women of color getting cast in roles, but rarely are they ever at the forefront.

It is safe to assume that Disney won’t make the mistake of casting white actors in a film about the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, because they are aware of the cultural significance that this character has. Even though I am certain that they will cast properly, it is always important for people to raise awareness about the need for representation and diversity in the industry.

This can be an opportunity to find an unknown Chinese actress and give her the role of a lifetime. The potential is unbelievable for a live-action Mulan film, and once Disney casts the proper actors and actresses for the film, I could finally stop correcting friends about those fake articles they see on social media claiming that Scarlett Johansson is playing Mulan. For real, proper casting would be worth it for that alone.

Source: The Petition Site

Noah Villaverde

Noah Villaverde

Cinema lover. Saxophone player. Coffee consumer. Chronic complainer. Oh, I also write. #TeamHeroic

  • Carl

    Come on, Disney will obviously cast an Asian actress for Mulan. No need to get riled up beforehand.

    • RNG

      Will they???

  • Darthmanwe

    Well, if they are stupid enough to whitewash a movie set in China, let them. Let them do it, then watch them crash and burn as people boycott the damn thing. They’ll be left holding the hot potato with -150M $ to boot.

    • SAMURAI36

      Look what happened with Gods Of Egypt.

  • Christopher Chen

    Doug Belgrad, former Head of Production from Sony Columbia, is producing his own take on Mulan, with Sony Columbia distributing it. It’s a separate version from Disney’s. After all, the IP is in public domain, anyways. May the best adaptation win in the end.

    • SAMURAI36

      This just sounds like Disney trying to beat Sony to the punch. It’s extremely doubtful that both studios put this same property into development at the exact same time. Disney has a habit of doing stuff like this.

  • Talia

    No good choices for Asian actresses is just a bad excuse. Take your pick

  • Jake Bucsko

    “Of course, the usual excuse to avoid the uncomfortable conversation about diversity in film is to “choose the best actor/actress for the role”

    The venn diagram of people who trot this out when ScarJo gets cast in Ghost in the Shell (or when Benedict Cumberbatch is cast to play Khan Noonien Singh, or when Jake Gyllenhaal plays the Prince of Persia), and the people who scream about pandering or “diversity for diversity’s sake” when MBJ/Zendaya get cast as Torch/MJ is a circle.

  • Loren R. Javier

    I’m surprised Heroic Hollywood doesn’t know that the film is not an adaptation of the Disney animated film, but it’s own adaptation of the Chinese legend Fa Mulan being produced by Sony. It’s not being produced by Disney. That would be like saying Snow White and the Huntsman was produced by Disney and based on its film just because it created a film in 1938 based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. So, it’s hard to take this petition seriously based on that. Otherwise, I’d sign it.

    • Peter James

      The only person who doesn’t know what they’re talking about here is YOU.

      Both Disney and Sony are doing competing live action adaptations and remakes of the Mulan tale.

      The Disney one was announced earlier and will be a remake of their own animated movie that they did earlier whereas the Sony one is an entirely fresh take of the same story and was announced AFTER Disney had already set their plans in motion.

      This petition obviously concerns the Disney one, as Sony announced that their version will be made based in China and with a Chinese producing partner (ostensibly with a primarily Chinese cast).

      Knowing what you’re talking about before you say it.
      Highly under-rated.

      • Loren R. Javier

        You are right. I completely forgot they announced it last year.