UPDATE: April Fools! If you couldn't tell from the image below, that's not the first look at Kevin Hart as Mushu. But should play the role in Mulan?
The first look at Kevin Hart's Mushu from Disney's live-action Mulan movie has been revealed by Disney. While Hart's casting hadn't previously been officially announced, he was previously rumored for the role, so this isn't only confirmation of his part in the movie, but also our first look at his live-action appearance.
Disney has a full slate of live-action adaptations of their classic cartoons on the way, with big hits like Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast under their belt Dumbo in theaters now, and Aladdin and Lion King on the way. While these movies are all labeled as "live-action," some of them, like Jungle Book and Lion King, are almost entirely CGI creations, while Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin have live-action characters but still feature primary CGI characters like the Beast and the Genie. Mulan has more in common with the latter films with a motion capture Mushu performance by the appropriately short Kevin Hart.
Filming wrapped in November of 2018 and there's just over a year until Mulan finally hits theaters, so Disney appears to be slowly beginning its marketing push now that Dumbo is finally in theaters. This new image Mulan appears to a screengrab from a trailer and could be revealing Mushu's look before the first teaser officially drops in the near future.
While Beast from Beauty and the Beast was mostly seen as a technical accomplishment, Aladdin's Genie drew ridicule for his awkward looking reveal. The internet has yet to fully react to Mushu, but based on this first image, it's probably more likely to see reception similarly to the Genie, a role Hart was ironically considered for before Will Smith was cast.
Fortunately, more recent footage from Aladdin has gone a long way to ease audience uncertainty in the appearance, so this early Mushu reveal could very well be Disney trying to get ahead of the curve in order to show a marked improvement by the time his full reveal is made when the first trailer arrives.
For now, we can see that Mushu keeps Hart's face, likely to leverage his star power, but otherwise, he has the general dragon-like appearance, although he's a little more human looking than the version from the cartoon. Eddie Murphy classicly played the role in the original animated movie, so Kevin Hart will have big shoes to fill, but as one of the biggest entertainers working today, he should have what it takes.
While Mulan is purported to have an all Asian cast, Hart seems to be the exception, but since Mushu is a dragon, they may feel they can take more liberties with his ethnicity, even though Mushu is supposed to be a guardian spirit for Mulan's family, so Hart's casting may yet draw some controversy.
- Mulan (2020) release date: Mar 27, 2020