- Local time
- Today, 00:17
- Dec 12, 2009
The new Mulan movie sucks for the same reason the new Star Wars trilogy sucked and what I love about this is that Hollywood were trying to appeal to the Chinese government and people and in doing so they did EXACTLY what would tick them off the most and this isn't the first time, every time they include a token Chinese character more or less the same thing happens.
I think there's an inherent divide between eastern collectivism (the brotherhood of the original movie) and western individualism exemplified by "flawless" superheros, which can work and has worked in the past and the reason it worked then and not now isn't that the superhero is female, it's that when you have a flawless Superman or Batman (you see them in comics, cartoons and animated movies) the story isn't about them.
The new Batman movie that's coming out might actually be a return to the traditional Batman story formula, there's a crime, he investigates, he finds clues, he follows the clues, the story delves into who the antagonist is, what they're about, where they came from, what motivates them, etc, there's a final death defying confrontation and in the end Batman wins and the bad guy gets sent to Arkham while swearing vengeance or whatever, it's just like an Inspector Gadget cartoon episode but with darker themes.
This formula works because Batman may be the protagonist of the story but the story isn't about the protagonist, it's a tragedy, it's a story about the villain and their descent into madness and Batman is just along for the ride and the audience is riding along with him. This is why people say Batman is nothing without his rogues gallery because it's true, he's an implacable flawless stoic who powers through every obstacle in his path in the same relentless way Superman does, the best you can do is temporarily slow him down.
The same formula would work for this new Mulan, right from the first scene it can be established that she's this fearsome magical warrior, a goddess among mortals, a character with a "flat arch" just as Goku has a flat character arch, Mulan is Mulan and will be the same Mulan tomorrow as she is today and that's fine because the story isn't about her, it's about the villain. Accordingly you'll need an interesting villain to carry the story, consider the sort of villains superhero movies usually have: Loki, Ultron, Thanos, The Joker, Bane, Orm Marius, they're all larger than life characters and the movie revolves around their motivations, except Age of Ultron which sucked because his motivations weren't clear which makes it the exception that proves my point.
Anyway forget superheroes what's really interesting about all this is how the west has this rabid individualism which shows through in superheroes and mary sue characters whereas the original Mulan movie was well received in China because it was about being a part of something bigger than oneself without losing oneself to it but rather using one's individual strengths to the betterment of everyone, an ideology that Chinese (communism influenced) audiences can identify with and a motif that is lost on individualistic western audiences. This goes beyond movies and could be an explanation for China's rising influence on the global stage while the west in particular the USA is waning, against the USSR which was bureaucratic and rife with corruption the USA's unbridled capitalism surged ahead and born of that is this idea that communists don't understand money, that being competitive is more important to success than cooperation.
China's success is proving the old theories wrong, these so-called communists do understand money and their willingness to cooperate is taking the world by storm.