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'Mulan's Li Shang Is Sexually Fluid, According to BD Wong

BD Wong and Li Shang

If you have some lingering questions about Mulan, BD Wong has some new and improved answers.

Mulan was released in 1998 and has since become an absolute classic. It's gone on to have a straight-to-video sequel, and also get remade into a live-action version that debuted last year. The film has been discussed endlessly and its characters dissected for their respective subtext. When the live-action remake was released, many criticized as the character Li Shang was cut from the project.

To some, Shang was a "bisexual icon." For them, there was undeniable chemistry between Shang and Mulan when she was presenting herself to others as Ping, a male soldier. That the perceived attraction was directed both at Ping and toward Mulan when she unveiled herself spoke to this. And while that may not be "canon," now BD Wong is adding his voice to the fray.

"I have a very important question to ask," Bowen Yang, co-host of the Las Culturistas podcast, said to Wong on a recent episode titled "Control King." "BD Wong, do you think Captain Li Shang was attracted to Peng?"

"I would like to think that he was," Wong responded. "I don't want to disappoint anyone and I don't want to be a coward or anything like that ... ok, but you know what. OK, no. Fluidity is a very important thing to acknowledge." Yang, and his co-host Matt Rogers encouraged Wong in working through the process.

"When we made the movie, fluidity was not a word," he continued, referring to the animated film. "We didn't talk about fluidity. Now we have fluidity. Now we watch Shang and his choices and his actions, and see it through fluidity. And this whole idea that there's a needle and it goes from zero to 100 and it doesn't have to be one place or another. It can move. You can change your pronouns and then change them the next day if you want and that's good and should be the way it is. 

"So in that case, I'm recalibrating my answer," he said, later going on to say that he previously used to deny that sort of reading. "Of course, he was. Of course, he was!  What other reason would there be?"

Hey, Disney+ can we get an Adventures of Li Shang and Ping as soon as possible?!

But that's not all. In addition to discussing Li Shang's sexuality and what may have happened if the animated version were released today with the rhetoric around sexuality and gender, Wong also discussed not doing the singing for the film.

"You know, I was kind of fired," he said. While the actor voiced Li Shang, he didn't do the singing part. Instead, "I'll Make a Man Out of You," one of the biggest songs from the soundtrack, was sung by Donny Osmond. "They brought him in and one could say any number of reasons why they brought him in, whether it was they liked him better or they thought they wanted someone ... he had that perfect Disney name. I can't say ... But once of the things they said to me to sell it to me, to let me down easy was 'his singing voice sounds more like your singing voice than your singing voice.'"

"I just nodded and said ok."

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Tags: Film, Disney

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