The ‘Mulan’ Director Gets Real On Why The Live-Action Remake Leaves Out The Musical Numbers And Mushu

Disney’s stable of remakes have arrived through a considerable amount of effort and notable changes, for better or worse, to the originals. Those changes have either been well-received (Will Smith’s blue genie in Aladdin) or mixed (people were thrilled and weirded out by the photorealistic use of CGI in The Lion King), and it remains to be seen how the live-action Mulan reboot will fare with audiences. The first trailer showed a dead-serious take on the story about a young girl stepping in for her father as a warrior in the Imperial Army.

Notably, no musical numbers or talking dragon (voiced by Eddie Murphy) surfaced in those few minutes, and for a solid reason. Director Niki Caro explained to Digital Spy that this since this is live-action, realism is important. This obviously makes a heap of sense, given that warriors and soldiers don’t pause for musical numbers during epic battle scenes, but here’s what Caro said:

“I mean, back to the realism question — we don’t tend to break into song when we go to war. Not that I’m saying anything against the animation. The songs are brilliant, and if I could squeeze them in there, I would have. But we do honour the music from the animation in a very significant way. I guess that’s the biggest thing for me about making — remaking — an iconic title like Mulan in live-action. It’s the fact that it can be real, and it’s the real story of a girl going to war.”

As for Mushu, Caro called the dragon “irreplaceable,” but the same sentiment applies: there’s no room for a dragon’s jokes during matters of live, death, and honor. The director did stress, though, that there will be “a creature representative” in the spiritual sense that is important to Mulan, especially regarding her relationship with her dad, but it definitely won’t be a Mushu incarnation.

From the movie’s synopsis:

When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation … and a proud father.

Disney’s Mulan remake (which also stars Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Gong Li, and Jet Li) arrives in theaters on March 27. Watch the latest TV spot below.

(Via Digital Spy)