Making Mulan Right, and the Limits of On-Screen Representation

by Oanh-Nhi Nguyen and Mark Tseng Putterman

When a leaked script revealed that Disney planned to center its live-action Legend of Mulan film around a white merchant who comes to “white knight” the hero of China, the outrage was swift and fierce. After thousands signed 18MillionRising’s petition, Disney quickly responded to assure fans that all major characters would be cast as Chinese. “Don’t worry,” one patronizing headline went so far as to say, everything’s going to be fine. And by and large, the once-raging fire of #MakeMulanRight has cooled to a few glowing embers. Asian America seems to be satisfied to know that Disney won’t turn Mulan into yet another white savior film.

It’s a win, but not exactly the sort of victory you can feel great about. We’ve been through this too many times, haven’t we?

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An Open Letter to the Creators of Disney’s Live Action Mulan

by ConcernedForMulan | Originally posted at Angry Asian Man

[Ed. note: In the 24 hours since this open letter was posted on AAM, Disney has released a statement that their live action adaptation of Mulan will not feature a white love interest. We are still posting the original letter because we can confirm that the spec script discussed below does indeed exist and is still indicative of how Hollywood views Asians.]

A white merchant’s business brings him to the heart of a legendary Asian conflict — he unwittingly helps save the day while winning the heart of the Asian female. Am I describing the plotline of the Netflix series Marco Polo? No. I’m describing the spec script that Disney bought for its live-action feature film, The Legend of Mulan, which is projected for release in 2018.

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Disney’s Live-Action Mulan Launches ‘Global Casting Search’ for Chinese Actress

Disney’s 3-D live-action story of the 1998 animated hit Mulan has officially received a release date: November 2, 2018.

It will be exactly twenty years after the original film was released, with the title character voiced by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Ming-Na Wen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has launched a ‘global casting search for a Chinese actress’ to play the title character. Yes, you read that right. A Chinese Actress.

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The Great Wall, Matt Damon, and the Thing About Chinese Money

The trailer for The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon and directed by Zhang Yimou, dropped yesterday and my first reaction to seeing it:

What. The. Frack?

Why is a white dude in a film about the construction of the Great Wall? And there’s dragons? One of them is voiced by Willem Dafoe? HUH??

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CCTV America News on Whitewashing in Hollywood

Over the weekend, I was invited to join a CCTV America newscast — the Stateside arm of China Central Television — to discuss Hollywood’s continuing habit of erasing Asians and Asian Americans from the movies. It was my first time as an in-studio guest, but I was able to join anchorwoman Susan Roberts live from Washington, DC. Check out the video of the segment after the jump.

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Shang-Chi is Coming to Netflix(!), Still Doesn’t Negate Need for #AAIronFist

This morning, our friends at MCU Exchange (with help from The Hashtag Show) broke some pretty big news: mainly, that Shang-Chi will be a featured part of the Iron Fist series on Netflix, with the possibility that he may get spun off into his own series! This is definitely some welcome news, especially considering how a lot of folk reacted to the news of Finn Jones. In fact, I can already hear the FistBros1 queuing up in our mentions telling us to finally shut up about #AAIronFist.

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Why Does Danny Rand Need to be White?

by MC Nedelsky in collaboration with MCU Exchange

The news just broke that Scott Buck has been tapped to spearhead Iron Fist for Netflix and Marvel. This has led people to speculate that the show will cast a white lead despite the fact that the momentum for an Asian American Iron Fist is growing. Keith Chow begun the discussion over a year ago with his powerful op-ed on why having an Asian American play Danny Rand is so important. It was a piece that had a large impact on me, and many others such as Lexi Alexander and Gail Simone have taken up the call. Nerds of Color and MCU Exchange have teamed up to produce a series of articles providing suggestions not only how to adapt Iron Fist’s complex mythology but also arguing that an Asian American Iron Fist makes more sense not only for reasons of diversity, but for thematic and narrative reasons as well, and a few weeks ago Charles Pulliam-Moore of Fusion wrote forcefully that Iron Fist “better be Asian,” joining the chorus of voices who feel this is important. It’s a proper movement now.

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Fixing Marvel’s Iron Fist: Introducing Danny Rand to a New Audience

by MC Nedelsky in collaboration with MCU Exchange

We’re continuing our look at how Marvel can adapt Iron Fist for Netflix, and while an earlier post looked at the supposed difficulties of incorporating the mystical elements of the Iron Fist mythology into the Netflix world, perhaps Marvel’s issue is a more basic one — the challenge of how introduce a character to a new audience given a complicated and convoluted continuity.

This is of course an issue any comic book adaptation must grapple with, but Iron Fist has a particularly convoluted and dense continuity. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the basics of the character — a young boy shaped by the trauma of the death of his parents, trained in a mystical city, who returns to Earth to seek vengeance — is a phenomenal origin story for a superhero. Rather, its the labyrinthine and often contradictory history that has been built up around the character over time. Any adaption will necessarily make changes to smooth out continuity, and I have five small but crucial suggestions on how to do just that. Best of all for purists, these changes leave Danny Rand himself almost completely unchanged — instead, they focus on his father, who presents the majority of the backstory issues.

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