Producers decided to remove Li Shang, arguing that the character and his relationship with Mulan is "inappropriate" in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
In the original animated version, Li Shang is a general in China's imperial army. Mulan joins the army in her father's place, disguised as a man named Ping, and they develop a bond — eventually going for dinner after Mulan's identity is revealed.
"I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn't think it was appropriate," producer Jason Reed told Collider.
As such, they divided the character of Li Shang into two different characters — Commander Tung as a father figure, and Honghui as an equal in the army.
Despite making moves to prevent criticism, Disney is being critiqued by some fans of the original film, who claim that leaving Li Shang in the film could have been a beneficial teaching moment — not to mention he's also become somewhat of an icon in the bisexual community.
Li Shang's entire fucking arc is about realizing that Mulan isn't lesser than because she's a woman, he learns and grows because of her, it's almost like... men could fucking learn from this exact story????? https://t.co/xKz3nbtucd— Kala Elizabeth - (commissions open) (@kalaelizabeth) February 27, 2020
Bisexual legend Li Shang would NEVER use his position as her commanding officer to pressure her into a relationship. It isn't until after Mulan leaves the Chinese army that Shang pursued her. In this essay I will https://t.co/YZTLemqPQK— Sam the great (@teoami) February 27, 2020
First no songs, then no mushu, then a lead actress who supports police brutality, and now no Li Shang. Mulan stays losing rn https://t.co/c98sSkcg2i— Amanda 💙 (@Amanda_blue447) February 28, 2020
everyone knows the real reason they got rid of li shang wasn't to be "woke" but bc they were uncomfortable with a bi king and his big tiddies, and i for one won't stand for it— lauren (@duartedrivers) February 28, 2020
nothing but respect for my bisexual king li shang pic.twitter.com/Qd6TXgzZrS— lia ☆ (@clqudstiel) February 28, 2020
literally bullshit. we love li shang, and he's important to the story. he pushed mulan to become a better soldier, and the fact that li shamg was falling in love with ping, before he knew they were mulan? its beautiful. and where the FUCK was it described as sexual??? y'all gross https://t.co/xr969sAPCg— bug ♡ (@rickyboIton) February 28, 2020
this is bullshit. Li Shang, our bisexual king, just started to love Ping before he knew Ping was Mulan. disney is homophobic https://t.co/WHtpUtXDND— ً (@deancastieIx) February 28, 2020
Nevertheless, the new Li Shang-less version of Mulan will hit theatres on March 27.