Ming-Na Wen on How Mulan Broke Gender Stereotypes

Over twenty years after its release, fans are still praising Disney's Mulan. As the film's star, Ming-Na Wen, recently explained during an appearance at Denver Pop Culture Con, she's seen the ways that the film broke new ground in terms of a strong, independent female character -- especially within Disney's animated world.

"I really believe that Mulan was one of the first Disney princesses - I mean, she really wasn't a Disney princess if you think about it." Wen revealed. "She was just a girl in a village and she became a woman warrior. Which is also the trend, I think, of Disney princesses at the time. They were more or less damsels in distress. And it was really wonderful to have a character that was able to not need a man to save her - in fact, she saved the guy - and came into her own discovery of what her self worth is and what she was capable of doing."

Went also discussed the fact the strives that the film made in terms of gender stereotypes, in part due to Mulan pretending to be a boy in able to fight in the Chinese army.

"And also, you know, she did dress up as a boy, and I think that had kind of an unexpected, but wonderful impact for a lot of people of the LGBT community as well." Wen explained. "And I think it's wonderful that there has been a Disney princess/warrior that has been able to cross a lot of boundaries. Actually, not cross, but just opened up a lot of different aspects of what a woman can be."

Of course, fans will soon get a chance to experience Mulan's story in a whole new way, with Disney's live-action remake of the film set to debut next year. The film will be directed by Niki Caro, and star Liu Yifei as the film's titular heroine. The cast will also include Gong Li, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Yoson An, Ron Yuan, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Xana Tang, and Chum Ehelepola.

While Wen hasn't confirmed or denied if she will cameo in the film, she's expressed optimism in the project coming together.

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” Wen said at a convention appearance in 2017. “And she’s perfect for it. I’m so excited. And she’s Chinese! Thank you!”

“Just don’t eff it up,” Wen added. “But I’d like to think that the animation Mulan still holds a special place in people’s hearts, you know? Me and Lea Solanga [Mulan’s singing voice] creating this beautiful image with the animators and Disney back in the day, before even CGI was a big thing. It was one of the first CGI animations. I’m very proud of the continued legacy. I hope that they do it justice.”

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The live-action Mulan will debut in theaters on March 27, 2020.

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