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We're about a month away from the theatrical release of Disney's live-action Mulan remake from director Niki Caro, and the big question that still remains is this: Just what the heck happened to Mushu? Voiced by Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) in the animated original from 1998, the small-statured dragon served as a good chunk of comedic relief throughout the story.
Despite being a fan-favorite character, Mushu was nowhere to be found in any of the trailers or marketing materials for the upcoming remake. That's because he, as well as the first movie's iconic musical numbers, were intentionally left out in favor of a more respectful retelling.
"We all love Mushu," producer Jason Reed told Empire for the magazine's newly released April issue. "But it turns out that that maybe isn't the most culturally appropriate way to represent a dragon in Chinese culture. So we are not having Mushu ... We've worked really closely with a lot of Chinese partners and with the Chinese government and with cultural consultants and researchers. We have gone to great pains to make sure that we show due deference."
Instead of Mushu or even a lucky cricket, the live-action Mulan (played by Liu Yifei) gets a mythical guardian in the form of a phoenix.
In addition, famous songs like "Reflection" and "I'll Make a Man Out of You" are gone, too — at least in the way you expect. Caro explained that some of the compositions from the '98 version will be referenced in the new score by Harry Gregson-Williams "in the most epic and appropriate way" since "people don't tend to break into song when they're going to war."
That war is a conflict between Imperial China and an army of merciless Huns led by Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) and his witch compatriot, Xian Lang (Gong Li). Yifei's titular heroine is a young woman who pretends to be a man in order to take her ailing father's (Tzi Ma) place in the army.
Yoson An (Mortal Engines), Donnie Yen (Rogue One), Rosalind Chao (Black-ish), Jimmy Wong (The Circle), Doua Moua (Tracers), Ron Yuan (Independence Day: Resurgence), and Jet Li (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) co-star in the film.
Mulan opens in theaters everywhere Friday, March 27.