Right now, Disney is planning on continuing its recent live-action remake trend with a new take on their 1998 animated film, Mulan. Following worrying reports that the film’s script would tell the story of a white merchant who joins a war to protect Mulan as well, his love interest, it was also recently revealed that Disney was instead planning on making sure that all of the major roles in the film would be focusing on Asian characters, played by Asian actors. The news came as a relief to fans of the original movie, who believe that it’ll offer Asian-American actors and the culture as a whole, a much-needed boost in representation on the big screen.
Meanwhile, at the same time as Disney’s project, Sony is also developing a rival live-action version of Mulan of their own. Now, thanks to a new report coming out today, it looks like Sony has found the director for the film, and the studio doesn’t seem to be showing the same attention to representation that Disney is.
Deadline is reporting that longtime Game of Thrones director, Alex Graves, has been hired by Sony to direct Mulan, which will be an adaptation of Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, the female warrior who took her sick father’s place in the Chinese Imperial Army. A script for the project has already been written by Jason Keller (Mirror Mirror, Escape Plan), and it is said in the report to be targeted much more for the international marketplace than Disney’s film, which means it’s progress won’t necessarily be dictated by movement on the rival project.
Graves has had a successful career in the TV world for decades now, though he’s most well-known for directing iconic Game of Thrones episodes throughout the series’ first four seasons including ‘The Mountain and The Viper,’ ‘Kissed by Fire,’ and more. It was likely his work on the HBO series, showing his ability to handle large action scenes set against a fantastical backdrop that made him an appealing choice to the studio for Mulan. However, the decision for Graves to direct is a missed opportunity on Sony’s part to bring in an Asian or female filmmaker for the project, especially with both demographics being drastically underemployed in the film industry right now.
The word is that Disney will be looking for an Asian filmmaker to direct their live-action adaptation of the classic story, which will probably give the rival film an added edge with audiences and critics who are in the know, when they go to see both movies in the theater. Sony is said to be looking for an Asian lead for the project though, which means that both of the studios’ takes on Mulan won’t be relying on the tired trope of a white male savior who has come in to help save the Asian culture from complete destruction. Considering the recent controversy that has surrounded the Matt Damon-led Great Wall, that should prove to not only be a beneficial decision by both studios, but also an important step in the right direction for the entertainment industry.
Sony’s Mulan does not currently have a theatrical release date. We will keep you updated on its progress.