disney have cast the new mulan, and we’re excited

Thousands signed a petition to hire Liu Yifei.

by Georgie Wright
30 November 2017, 1:10pm

Disney princesses have long been problematic, not least because they encourage the stereotype that girls should aspire to just that -- turning into a princess. Ariel in The Little Mermaid literally gives up her voice to get her man, Rapunzel relies on a dude to emancipate her from captivity, Pocahontas’ interracial marriage does not solve any racial tensions between the Powhatan people and the (white) settler John Smith (also in reality she was 12 and he was er, 28) -- she is a prize to be won by him. And Sleeping Beauty -- well let’s not talk about the trope of a woman being an inanimate object until a man presents her with a kiss.

Add this to Hollywood’s woeful habit of whitewashing POC characters, and you’d be safe in assuming Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan could be a wreck of Ghost in the Shell proportions. But it appears that whoever’s replacing all the gross men in Hollywood who’ve lost their jobs are onto something, with news of Chinese actress Liu Yifei being cast as the upcoming film’s lead.

Liu, who also goes by Crystal Liu, was chosen after an extensive search across five continents that saw nearly 1000 people try for the part. According to The Hollywood Reporter she ticks all the boxes. She speaks English, is trained in martial arts and has that enigmatic quality that Simon Cowell calls “the x factor” and your mum calls pizazz. A petition even circulated in favour of her casting!

Mulan is about a young woman who dresses up as a man to join the army and save her wounded father from being forced to do so. With this new casting, and a female director in New Zealand’s Niki Caro, maybe it’s time the racist and patronisingly patriarchal Disney monarchy gets a right kick up its royal arse. Well, it’s been quite the week for princess news, hasn’t it.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Liu Yifei