Warning: this post contains spoilers from the 2020 theatrical version of “Mulan”
The live-action version of “Mulan” premiered last Friday on Disney+.
The remake, which stars Liu Yifei as the titular heroine, differs quite a bit from the 1998 animated version. But a special cameo in the 2020 version ties the two films together. Read ahead for spoilers.
Towards the end of the film, after Mulan has rescued the emperor (a bearded Jet Li) from the hands of warlord Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee), there is a grand scene in the palace.
There’s a reverse shot of a woman in elaborate robes making her way to the throne. Viewers are led to believe that the woman is Mulan.
It *is* Mulan, albeit the actress who voiced her in the 1998 animated film: Ming-Na Wen.
Wen, who is billed as the “esteemed guest” in the credits, makes an introduction and then steps aside to reveal Liu’s Mulan.
You can watch the cameo below:
Ming Na Wen (1998 Mulan) introducing 2020 Mulan. I didn’t expect this cameo. Reflection as background music. Perfect. pic.twitter.com/Js4sML66fM
— thehaniff (@thehaniff) September 5, 2020
The song playing in the background — and used several times throughout the film — is an orchestral version of “Reflection,” which Christina Aguilera as a single for the 1998 film (and reprised for the 2020 one).
In an interview with the New York Times, Wen says she brought up the idea of a cameo with the producers, who loved the idea. She was slated to play one of the mothers in a matchmaker’s house, but scheduling conflicts prevented that from happening (Wen was starring in another Disney production: ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD.”)
“So we sort of let it go, and then Jason and Niki [Caro, the director] came up with this great idea where instead of shooting an entire scene, I’d just make a cameo at the very end to announce Mulan to the emperor. I thought that was very appropriate and just wonderful, a little Easter egg where I could pass the baton,” Wen explained.
And for super fans, there’s actually an Easter egg within the Easter egg.
While Mulan is addressing the emperor, there is a cutaway shot to one of the palace courtiers reacting to what she’s saying. That courtier, who is uncredited, is played by Wen’s daughter Michaela.
In addition to voicing the animated Mulan, Wen also played the lead in one of the first major movies with an all-Asian cast: 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club.”