Disney has released the first teaser trailer for the upcoming live-action take on Mulan, which will be released on 27 March, 2020. Directed by Niki Caro and starring Liu Yifei in the title role, the remake is set to be one of the Mouse House's biggest offerings of next year, with the aim of making it very big in China in particular.
Mulan tells the story of the legend of Hua Mulan, a Chinese warrior who, disguised as a man, takes her father's place in the army. The 1998 animated version wasn't one of Disney's biggest hits of the 90s, but it has developed a strong fan base in the years following its release. What's more, the original wasn't greatly received in China, something the Mulan live-action film is looking to change. Because of that, there are some key differences to the animated movie in the Mulan remake trailer, but viewers will still find plenty of similarities between them as well.
Mulan Enters On Horseback
The Mulan live-action trailer opens up with a sweeping shot of Mulan riding her horse, which immediately gives this a more epic scope than the animated version. There we do see Mulan riding home on horseback as well, but it's played as more of a humorous moment. The 2020 Mulan is seemingly taking a more serious approach to its material.
Sticking on that note, we get to see this shot of Mulan's home village in the live-action Mulan trailer, which looks very detailed even from a distance. There are some splashes of color alongside the wooden buildings, and it looks like they've taken the opportunity to jazz the place up. In the original Mulan, while it's not drastically different, it does have a more simplistic design.
We get to meet Mulan's family in the trailer for the live-action Mulan remake, starting with her mother, Hua Li (Rosalind Chou), who was voiced by Freda Foh Shen in the original. Again, we can see that more attention has been paid to the costume work here, with the green-and-gold looking more traditional and detailed than what we saw in the animated Mulan.
Mulan's father, Hua Zhou, is played by Tzi Ma in Disney's live-action Mulan remake, having been voiced by Soon Tek-Oh in the original film. The hairstyle remains the same, but this version of Mulan's father is lacking the distinctive (if simplistic) facial hair, and again his costume looks a little more detailed. As in the original, Mulan's father will be a war veteran who is called back into service despite his ill health, leading to his daughter taking his place.
One big change to the animated Mulan is the introduction of Hua Xiu (Xana Tang) in the live-action Mulan trailer, who is Mulan's sister. She isn't present in the original, and seems to be taking on the supporting role played by Mulan's Grandmother Fa in the original movie.
Honor To Us All
Disney's live-action Mulan remake controversially isn't a musical, which means none of the classic songs are properly heard in the trailer. We do, however, get to hear Mulan say she will "bring honor to us all", leading to this makeover style sequence that has strong echoes of the "Honor To Us All" scene from the original. Notice the jade comb has made it across, which is a nice touch.
Again, there aren't any performed songs in Disney's live-action Mulan, but there are a couple of nods to one of the original's biggest numbers, "Reflections". A couple of bars from the song can be heard just over 20 seconds in, and then there's this visual parallel. The context is different - in the live-action version, Mulan is training, while in the original she's thinking about how she'll let her family down - but it's a very similar look if nothing else.
The Mulan of the live-action remake looks like she'll be a far more accomplished warrior before heading off with the army than the Mulan of the animated version. In both of these scenes, we see her using her father's sword, but in the live-action Mulan trailer, she appears to be very comfortable with the weapon, contrasted to the more unsure take in the original.
Mulan's Makeover Is Complete
We hear that a match has been found for Mulan, which leads to the makeover scene we saw earlier. Now we get to see that makeover being complete, with Mulan given very traditional make-up and clothing. The work in the live-action Mulan trailer takes advantage of the added detail offered by a team of make-up artists: it's richer and more complex, and the same goes for her dress too. In the animated Mulan, her face is simply coated in make-up with red cheeks, and then a more simple dress too. In both, though, Mulan doesn't look too impressed at the end results.
We don't get to see much of the matchmaker sequence in the trailer for Disney's live-action Mulan remake, but this shot, with Mulan spinning around in a dress with flowing sleeves, does at least feel like a reference to it, thanks to this similar shot in the animated movie.
Training For Battle
The army training sequence is arguably the most iconic scene in the 1998 Mulan movie. It's here that Donny Osmond belts out the classic "I'll Make A Man Out Of You", but we're not going to be able to hear that in the remake, bar an instrumental version. Still, the training sequence itself looks impressive in Disney's live-action Mulan trailer, albeit it's another scene that looks much more grounded.
Here we get to see the army's camp, which in Disney's live-action Mulan remake looks rather sparse. There are a couple of mountains in the background, but other than that there isn't much to it. That's contrasted by the animated version, which features a much more dramatic setting and looks a lot brighter too.
Mulan Wields A Bow
The live-action Mulan trailer begins to get into the thick of the action now, which means getting to see Mulan wielding a bow. She fires off a couple of arrows in quick succession, and is clearly adept at doing so. There are a couple of moments in the original Mulan where she wields a bow, but it's a particularly fun contrast to this shot, where she looks rather more confused by it all. Also of note here is the presence of Mushu, Mulan's trusty sidekick, in the original movie, who, like the music, isn't in live-action Mulan trailer. Disney is aiming to make this a more faithful and traditional take on the legend, which may mean no talking dragon, rather than a purer adaptation of their own movie as with something like The Lion King.
The avalanche sequence is another great one from the original Mulan, so it's good to see that it's being included in the live-action Mulan too. The avalanche comes when the Huns attack, and Mulan uses a cannon to trap them in the snow, which is a sign of her being clever as well as skilled in combat. It appears as though this is one of the scenes that's going to be very faithfully adapted from the animated movie.
Over The Rooftops
In the original Mulan, the warrior lures the film's villain, Shan Yu, who is the leader of the Huns, onto the rooftops to engage him in one-on-one combat. Although Shan Yu reportedly isn't in the live-action Mulan remake, the trailer does show a falcon (which is his bird) and we see Mulan on the rooftops, so we're going to be getting some version of this scene. Again, the Disney remake's setting looks much more traditional, and less fantastical or Disney-fied.
Mulan In Battle
The live-action Mulan trailer ramps up the action further still in its closing moments, with Mulan heavily engaged in combat. We see her showing her skill with a sword, and also dodging a number of attacks too. Although not an exact parallel, it calls to mind the moment from the animated Mulan where she blocks a sword with a fan. It's also worth pointing out at this stage Mulan's dress, which is an elegant red rather than the more muted blues of the original. It's not only very evocative, but perhaps a small nod to Mushu.
The live-action Mulan trailer ends with Mulan seemingly set for a final showdown with the villain. In the original, this is her fight against Shan Yu on the rooftops, and there's a similar tone in Disney's remake. This could be Mulan fighting Hun warrior Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee), but it might also be her facing down Mulan's other villain, who is a witch by the name Xian Lang, which is another big twist on the original film.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019
- Mulan (2020) release date: Mar 27, 2020