Mulan (opens in new tab) may not have been a direct adaptation of the ‘90s animated Disney classic, but it still found time to squeeze in some references – including one major cameo that acts as a passing of the torch.
Spoilers for Mulan follow…
Speaking to IGN (opens in new tab), director Niki Caro has opened up about the moment that sees original Mulan voice actor Ming-Na Wen have a cameo appearance at the end of the movie.
There, her character – the “esteemed guest” – introduces Mulan to the Emperor after her victory over Bori Khan.
So, how did that come together? “[I] asked her respectfully,” Caro said. “Her participation is one of the ways I got to honour the animation that I love so much. It was such a privilege that she came to play with us and I love the way she introduces Mulan – one Mulan into another.”
All in all, it’s a nice callback, one that gives the right amount of reverence to a movie many fans grew up with, while also acting as a nice little wink for those who recognised Wen in the scene.
One thing that Mulan doesn’t feature, however, is the smack-talking, fire-breathing dragon, Mushu. Voiced by Eddie Murphy in the original, Mushu didn’t make the cut in the live-action version (opens in new tab), his role effectively replaced by a phoenix.
Caro told USA Today (opens in new tab) of the change, “Mushu, beloved as that character is in the animation, was Mulan’s confidante, and part of bringing it into the live-action is to commit to the realism of her journey, and she had to make those relationships with her fellow soldiers. So there was certainly a lot to work with in that department.”
So, no Mushu – but a more touching nod to the original Mulan is a fair trade.