Niki Caro Says Her Live-Action Remake of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Will Be a ‘Girly Martial Arts Extravaganza’
Disney’s live-action remakes have brought some of the studio’s most iconic princesses to life on the big screen. We’ve seen Lily James try on the glass slipper as Cinderella, Elle Fanning prick her finger as Aurora, and this weekend Emma Watson dons Belle’s classic yellow gown in Beauty and the Beast. But it’s about time for a Disney princess to roll up her sleeves and prove just how tough a woman can be. Enter: Mulan.
Next up on the studio’s docket is a remake of 1998’s Mulan. We learned last month that Niki Caro, the director behind Whale Rider and McFarland USA, is teaming up with Disney to helm the forthcoming remake, and this week she confirmed the news to ScreenCrush. We caught up with The Zookeeper’s Wife director on Friday in New York City to discuss the upcoming holocaust drama starring Jessica Chastain and ask about the director’s Disney remake. When we asked how her version of Mulan will differ from the animated movie, and from Disney’s previous live-action reboots, the director responded enthusiastically:
I haven’t started yet so I can’t give you any real detail. But the budget and the location and the story is offering such scope to me for [an] incredible, muscular piece of girly martial arts extravaganza in China. And I can’t wait.
That pretty much sounds like the live-action Mulan of our dreams. Caro also revealed that to prep for the film, even she’s getting involved in the action. “I’ve got my little girl, she’s nine,” the director said. “We’re going to start learning mixed martial arts in preparation.”
The film, which is set for a 2018 release, is also making history. Caro has become only the second female director to helm a $100 million movie for Disney, and only the fourth in Hollywood history — others include Kathryn Bigelow for K-12: The Widowmaker, Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman, and Ava DuVernay for Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time.
Mulan is also promising for how much diversity it will hopefully bring to the big screen. Back in October, the project received backlash when an early version of the script detailed that Mulan’s love interest would be a white male. Soon after, new details emerged from Vulture that Disney was reportedly planning on casting Chinese actors in all of the primary roles, including the lead and love interest. It’s exciting news, especially considering how bad 2016 was for Asian visibility in Hollywood, and how 2017 isn’t doing a great job at it either. With that news and Caro on board — a director who’s helmed multiple films centered around strong, fierce female leads — Mulan is shaping up to be one of our most anticipated Disney remakes yet.
The Zookeeper’s Wife opens on March 31.