mushu mulan

Niki Caro, the director of Disney’s upcoming live-action Mulan remake, has confirmed what many fans suspected based on the first trailer: Mushu will not be in the new movie.

Yep. Despite Eddie Murphy’s character in the 1998 original animation providing most of the film’s comic relief, the little red dragon won’t be making a comeback. There will be an alternative character, though — a phoenix.

“I think we can all appreciate that Mushu is irreplaceable,” Caro explained during a recent press conference. “You know, the animated classic stands on its own in that regard. In this movie, there is a creature representative – a spiritual representation of the ancestors, and most particularly of Mulan’s relationship with her father.”

She added, “But an update of Mushu? No.”

Instead, the phoenix will apparently serve as a metaphor for gender fluidity, rather than a comic sidekick. Referencing the trailer, Caro said, “So, on the left and right hand of the emperor is a dragon. The dragon is representative of the masculine, and the phoenix is representative of the feminine.”

Mulan is due to arrive in theatres on March 27.

Weekend Staff Writer

Isabelle is an Australian writer based in Berlin.