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Mulan Live Action Remake Finds Director in Whale Rider‘s Niki Caro

Disney still remains committed to fielding an all-Chinese cast.



Niki Caro, who directed Whale Rider, is officially on board to direct Disney’s live-action Mulan remake. Caro’s previous credits also include McFarland, USA and North Country. She beat out many other female directors, including Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and Michelle MacLaren (Breaking BadThe Walking DeadGame of Thrones).

Originally, Disney had hoped to acquire a female director of Asian descent, in keeping with their hopeful promise to have Asian faces in front of and behind the camera. While it’s disappointing that they couldn’t find one, it seems fine that they still have a female director, period.

Where the movie will ultimately be judged is in its casting, though. The casting for the Mulan remake is a hot topic for debate, as previously, Disney came under fire for apparently initially drafting a story that reduced Mulan to a love interest and made the film about a European white savior-type a la Pocahontas. The move—purportedly a first draft script, not necessarily the final story—angered many fans, and rightfully so, I would argue. Mulan is, after all, a story based in Chinese folklore, and to suggest that the story be re-centered on a European man is pretty awful, to be frank.

All that being said, Disney has gone on the record to say that they’re still moving forward with the full intent that they’ll cast Chinese actors and actresses, and that the movie will still center on Mulan and her journey. They even promised that her love interest will also be Chinese, which is great to hear, as it speaks to the dearth of roles framing Asian men as potential love interests.

Only time will really tell whether this will all work out as well as we’re hoping for. The expectations are fairly high for this Mulan remake, especially given how much criticism Hollywood’s received as a whole regarding Asian representation. All eyes are on Disney (and now Caro) to get this right.

(via The Nerdy Bird, image via Disney)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.