With the arrival of Mulan on Disney+ as premium video-on-demand content, fans of the original were surprised to discover a nod to the animated original near the end of the film. In the live-action remake, Ming-Na Wen, the actress who portrayed the titular role in the 1998 film, appears for a surprise cameo.
*Spoilers for Mulan continue below*
After the main villain of the film is defeated, Mulan reveals to the troops she fought alongside that she was actually a woman. When she’s brought into the room of the emperor to celebrate, Wen makes a brief appearance in which she introduces Mulan to the emperor. While she’s not on screen for long, and is simply billed in the credits as “esteemed guest,” she gets the opportunity to pass the torch to Yifei Liu’s take on the character.
In an interview with the New York Times, Wen revealed how the cameo came together. “It all started with fans tweeting about it,” she said, which prompted her to ask her manager and agent if it would be possible. “I met with the producer Jason Reed and he loved the idea, but at that time I was doing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so scheduling-wise, it was kind of a logistical nightmare because Mulan was shooting in New Zealand.”
She had a part written for it, but due to the schedule conflicts it didn’t work out how it was originally planned. “I was going to be the potential mother-in-law for the matchmaker scene, but because of the weather, they needed me to be out there for a month just in case,” she added, which the producers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. obviously weren’t happy about. “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.”
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