In case it wasn’t already clear – in addition to their continued work with Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm – Disney has been steadily churning out and developing multiple new remakes and reimaginings of a number of their most iconic, beloved animated films over the past few years. After finding success with movies like Maleficent, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Pete’s Dragon, the studio looks to have found its most successful live-action remake to date in Beauty and the Beast, which finally hit theaters today, to an astonishing reception at the box office. That remake trend is far from over, and at the center of their upcoming non-Marvel and Star Wars titles, sits the new live-action retelling of Mulan.
Currently set for release in 2018, the film will be based heavily on the 1998 animated Disney film of the same name, and will also be the first of Disney’s live-action remakes directed by a female director, with Whale Rider’s Niki Caro signing on to helm Mulan. Apparently, the film will strongly hold onto the epic war aspects of the animated feature, with specific influences from one of the most critically acclaimed directors of all time.
While speaking recently with Vulture, President of Motion Pictures Production at Walt Disney Studios Sean Bailey spoke about their approach to bringing Mulan to life in a live-action format this time around. While it doesn’t sound like Mulan will have the same songs that the animated version did – unlike Beauty and the Beast – Bailey did call it a “fresh take on female empowerment,” saying that it’ll have influences from none other than Ridley Scott:
“Mulan is clearly an empowered-female story but we can also do something new in this reimagining, make it a little more muscular, stronger, with touch of Ridley Scott.”
Now, while Scott may not be the first director to come to mind when thinking of a live-action Mulan movie, it does make sense when looking back on his filmography – specifically with his work with films like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, and even Robin Hood. What Scott managed to do with those films was make medieval warfare feel visceral, muscular, and intense. The opening sequence of Gladiator is often hailed as one of the best action sequences of the genre, so it’s easy to see why Disney might take a closer look at what Scott did with those films when they develop and shoot a live-action version of Mulan.
Just the animated film alone contained some truly remarkable fight sequences and action set pieces (the battle in the snowy mountains, for instance), that approaching it like a visceral war epic feels like the best approach for the studio to make. In addition, Disney has confirmed that all of the major roles in the film will be played by Asian actors, staying true to the source material and continuing to take steps forwards in increasing onscreen diversity in films. So while there’s still a lot left to be done before any expectations can really be raised, Mulan is already setting itself up to be one of Disney’s most promising live-action adaptations in development right now.