Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Somehow I'll make a man out of you!

"You'll bring honor to us all."

Mulan is an animated film released in 1998, as the 36th film on the Disney Animated Canon. It was inspired by the Ancient Chinese folk legend of Hua Mulan (花木蘭), though Disney chose to romanize the heroine's name as Fa Mulan, in effect giving her family name the typical Cantonese pronunciation, but her personal name the normal Mandarin one.

The Huns are invading Imperial China, so every Chinese family receives a conscription order requiring one male from each household to serve in the army. Fa Mulan has no brothers, but she doesn't want her aging veteran father to go to war again, so she steals his sword and armor, cuts her hair, and goes in his place, disguised as a man.

Her ancestors ask the dragon Mushu (who is small and has a penchant for comedy) to wake up the Great Stone Dragon to go protect Mulan, but Mushu (accidentally) breaks the Stone Dragon's statue and, rather than own up to this, goes in his place, possibly to earn some glory, so becoming Mulan's Non-Human Sidekick.

Under the assumed name "Fa Ping", Mulan undergoes many hardships in basic training, but eventually wins the respect and friendship of her fellow soldiers, and marches with her battalion to confront the invading Huns in a cliff-top battle.

The film was very successful compared to the lukewarm reception of its predecessors Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules. In 2005, a direct-to-video sequel was made. Mushu is a summon character in the first Kingdom Hearts game, and Mulan is an assisting party member in the Land of the Dragons world of the sequel, and she was also made an honorary Disney Princess, even though she's not royalty, either by birth or marriage and even turns down a government appointment at the end.

A Live Action Adaptation was to be released in March 2020, but its premiere was delayed due to the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It was released in China in September 2020, where it was seen as having "inaccurate and stereotypical portrayals of Chinese history".

Tropes used in Mulan include:


  • Action Girl: Mulan proves herself to be one, she single-handedly wipes out most of the Hun Army by starting an avalanche, though at the (admittedly a lot lesser) risk of Shang and what was left of the Chinese army. She doesn't start off this way, but even then, she picks up things quicker than the other soldiers did. Of course, this action is actually justified considering that Shang said that if they died they would die with honor.
  • Adult Fear: After an argument with Mulan, she runs away from home, taking her father's place in the army. Her parents could only helplessly remain silent, knowing their only child would be exposed to the horrors of war and could possibly die and unable to go after her out of fear that if Mulan was exposed, she would be executed.
  • Exclusively Evil: Huns.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has "Breathe" by Luna Sea as the theme song. The Korean version uses "Eternal Memory" by Lena Park.
  • Anachronism Stew: The Forbidden City (constructed during the Ming dynasty) is featured prominently in the finale, but the Huns were already integrated into Chinese society by the time of the Northern Wei. The use of fireworks suggests the Sui dynasty but their style of dress suggests a later date. See this article for more on historical/cultural accuracy, which is forced to conclude that Mulan is set in "an imaginary dynasty in an imaginary part of China, based on real customs and lands".
    • Not to mention a certain pair of Goofy Print Underwear with what appears to be an elastic waistband, and a modern toothbrush and toothpaste tube.
  • Anti-Hero:
  • The Archer: One of the main Huns. One of the creepier ones too.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: The Emperor's statement starting "I have heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan..."
  • Art Shift: The Gang of Three's Imagine Spots during "A Girl Worth Fighting For", which shifts to the style of brush paintings.
  • Attractive Bent Gender: "I bet the local girls thought you were quite the charmer..." is sung for Mulan's male persona, and indeed the rice pickers take a shine to "him".
    • Averted/inverted later, when Mulan's friends sneak into the palace in disguise. "[It's only] Concubines." "Ugly concubines."
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Shan Yu and his council are the only Huns Badass enough to come popping out of the snow! Like daisies!
    • During the climactic fight, Shan Yu does things like chopping through columns and bursting through roofs.
  • Bear Hug: Chien Po does this.
  • Bifauxnen: Take a wild guess.
  • Badass: Several. Mulan, who wipes out the majority of the Hun army with a single rocket and then flashes Shan Yu a smirk when he has his Oh Crap moment. Shan Yu himself, who took the Great Wall as a challenge, deliberately challenged the Chinese Army and curb stomped them, and when he was buried in the avalanche, he just burst right out [1]. But the one who takes the cake is the Emperor. He's a noncombatant and the much younger and bulkier leader of the army that just crushed his own is swinging a sword at him. He doesn't even flinch.
  • Bad Boss: Shan Yu, to an extent. He wishes to go to war simply to prove how spectacular he is. Never mind the fact that if his people go to war with the Chinese, they could suffer a lot of casualties.
  • Bat Deduction: Played with when Shan Yu and his men deduct from a small doll, which Shan Yu's pet falcon managed to obtain on a scouting trip, that the Emperor's army is in a village in the mountain pass. It's unusual for this trope in that their deductive reasoning is logical, and the fact that they can deduce something like this makes sense considering that they're experts in tracking and that they live in the mountains (or at least have spent a huge amount of time crossing them).
  • Big Bad: Shan Yu. He's spearheading the Hun invasion.
  • Big Badass Bird of Prey: Shan Yu has one as a pet, that he can use for scouting.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: Mushu. Lampshaded by Mulan: "You're...tiny."

Mulan: My ancestors sent a little lizard to help me?
Mushu: Dragon, dragon! I don't do that tongue thing. *does "that tongue" thing for emphasis*

  • Bilingual Bonus: Mulan's male alias, "Ping", makes her full name "Hua Ping" (花瓶), which is Chinese for "flower vase" but also a figurative term for someone who is "just a pretty face" or, in other words, pretty but useless.
    • "Hua Ping" is also slang for "effeminate or homosexual man."
    • Chi Fu's name is a pun on the Chinese word for "to bully."
    • Chien Po's chant while trying to calm Yao down is a Buddhist prayer.
  • Birds of a Feather: Mulan and Shang are alike in many ways, such as being smart and strong, and willing to speak their mind. They do contrast in other ways, however.
    • Yao, Chien Po, and Ling state that their ideal girls would be a lot like them.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Shan Yu.
  • Blade Reflection
  • Bloodless Carnage: The destroyed village. Apparently, not a single drop of blood was spilled even though an entire army was massacred and a village destroyed and burnt. But that would have made the movie R rated.
    • Also in the scene where Shan Yu cuts Mulan across the chest causing a wound so bad that she passes out (presumably from blood loss) the moment her adrenaline rush is over after saving Shang. We see a dark stain on her armor for about an instant, but otherwise she seems to have bled out without actually bleeding out, or even damaging her armor at all.
      • She also has blood on her hand and arm.
    • The way Shan Yu is disposed of would have seen the rocket ripping him apart and ash and bloody/charred gibs raining over a small part of the Imperial City.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp/Translation Convention: The "Huns" referred to in the movie are almost certainly the Xiongnu, who were similar in many ways and often identified with them but actually different. This is presumably because 'Huns' is much easier to rhyme in English; the Mandarin version at least does call them the Xiongnu.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Shang towards Mulan at the end. The emperor even calls him out on it. He does at least visit her house at the end however.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one (except for Chien Po, Ling, Yao, and Shang himself, albeit reluctantly) believes Mulan about the still-living Huns, apparently because she lied about her gender.
    • Makes sense when you consider Mushu's line, "You're a girl again, remember?" The implication, that no one in that time and place took women seriously, was probably one of the reasons Mulan felt uncomfortable with her proscribed role in society.
    • Also, it wasn't necessarily because she lied about her gender specifically (though her being a woman probably did have something to do with it overall), just rather that she'd been lying to them period.
  • Chain of People: Mulan's troupe forms one after she falls off the cliff. Turns into a Self-Retracting Chain Of People immediately after, when Chien Po joins in.
  • Cheated Angle: The topknots on Shang and Mulan are cheated up slightly to keep them visible even when they would otherwise be blocked in a front angle view.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: "Reflect before you act. This will bring you honor and glory."
  • Chekhov's Skill: Pole climbing. Initially, only Mulan and Shang could do it...but due to the training they received, eventually Yao, Ling, and even Chien Po can do it.
    • Mushu's firebreathing.
    • Ling uses the brick-breaking headbutt he learned in training to take out one of the Huns.
    • Shoe throwing, of all things. Mulan uses it to catch Shan Yu's attention, stopping him just short of chopping Shang's head off. When we saw her do the same to Khan earlier, who knew it'd come in handy?
  • Cloudcuckoolander: "Ping" appears to be this to others, but it's caused by a combination of trying to act manly, having to hide her gender, and being sabotaged by the others after making an initial bad impression.

Chi Fu: The boy is an absolute lunatic!

  • Cooldown Hug: Chien Po's to Yao, on the first occasion when "Ping" ticks him off.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Emperor.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mulan's grandmother.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Mulan does this when asked her name. Her family name (which she must use as part of the cover story) is Fa, but she hasn't thought of a personal name, leading to a very awkward conversation where Mushu tries to secretly help her come up with a name.
  • Crying Wolf: After Mulan is revealed as being a woman, she sees that the Huns are still coming. She heads to warn Shang, but he doesn't believe her, possibly because she's a woman but also because she's a woman who has been lying to him for the whole movie, so there's some trust issues. Mulan says, "You'd trust Ping, why is Mulan any different?" Well, for one thing, for all Shang knew, Ping didn't get into the army based on a lie...
  • Cue the Sun: The climax of "Make a Man out of You". Ping/Mulan fails the whole training regimen and Shang pretty much tells him/her to go home. She then sees the arrow at the pole and decides to give it one last try. As she does, the sun rises and the other men start cheering her on. She succeeds and throws the arrow down to Shang's feet for emphasis, proving she can pull her own weight around.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Two examples:
    • The first one (which isn't seen but heavily implied) between the Huns and the Chinese army. Based on the aftermath Mulan and her friends see, it didn't go very well for the Chinese troops.
    • Mulan herself later delivers one to the Hun Army when she uses a rocket to cause an avalanche, destroying nearly all of the Huns in the process.
  • Cut Song: Two as revealed in the DVD: "Keep 'Em Guessing", originally intended to be Mushu's introduction song, and an opening number filled with Ominous Chinese Chanting.
  • Dare to Be Badass: The song "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" is basically about this.
  • Darker and Edgier: This film, unlike most Disney movies, thoroughly addresses the subject of war, and the grim consequences thereof, including the implied large-scale murder of the innocent and the grieving family members of those killed. That said, despite the dark nature of some of the subject matter, they manage to avert Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy by somewhat softening it through frequent comic relief.
  • Deadly Fireworks Display: The death of Shan Yu involves one of the most literal uses of this trope in cinema.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Emperor.

Emperor: See to it that this woman is made a member of my council.
Chi Fu: *stammers* What?! Uh... why, there are no council positions open, Your Majesty.
Emperor: Very well. [to Mulan] You can have his job.

    • Shan Yu has his moments, such as just after his soldiers capture two Chinese scouts:

Shan Yu: "Good work, gentlemen. You've found the Hun army."

  • Debt Detester: Shang saves Mulan's life after she dishonors the Chinese army in return for her saving his life during the Mongol attack.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: As mentioned above, several (but not all) male characters at least start out pretty sexist because, hey, it's ancient China. Also lampshaded when Mulan, after being honored as a hero, gives the Emperor a big hug; Yao asks, "Is she allowed to do that?" (No, it would have been punishable by death.) The other guys just shrug.
  • Determinator: It's easy enough to miss, but Shang actually sends Mulan off midway through the "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" segment. That's right, he sent her home and relieved the Fa family of their war duty. But she pulled through because of her pride!
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Mulan does this to herself whenever she gets into trouble as Ping.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "A Girl Worth Fighting For."
  • Disney Death: For a moment, it seems that the Huns are dead. Though most of the Huns DID in fact not survive the avalanche, Shan Yu and five of his soldiers did.
  • Disney Villain Death: Averted, deliberately. The Trope even gets a Lampshade Hanging on the DVD's the audio commentary.
  • Distressed Dude: The Emperor ends up becoming one when the Huns successfully sneak their way through China to his palace.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Part of the training for the new recruits is to learn to run through a hail of burning arrows without being hit. This is almost an inversion in that in the beginning when they are no good at it they do some actual dodging, but once he's got the hang of it, Yao runs through without being hit without making any visible effort to dodge.
  • Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Said by Yao when dressed as a woman, which is also an Actor Allusion (his voice actor has performed in drag). He gets a Dope Slap for his trouble.
  • Double Entendre: Mulan's mother tells Mulan that she can bring honor to her family by striking a good match. She ends up striking a good match when she ignites an explosive...and again when she uses a firework to kill Shan Yu.
  • Downer Ending: Subverted. Though the Huns have successfully been defeated, Mulan was revealed to be a lady and was thus kicked out of the military, though it could have been worse as Shang would have been allowed to execute Mulan for her actions. Fortunately, since he owes her a life debt (and technically speaking she was let out of the conscription notice in the first place), he does not kill her. For a moment it appears that Mulan has to go back to his father and face the consequences for her actions...but then it turns out that the Huns are still alive. Fortunately, she gets a happy ending when the Emperor reveals himself to be grateful for her heroics despite her chaotic behavior.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Shang has a song illustrating just how nasty he is.
    • Subverted in that he isn't that nasty - he's tough but good, and reacts with approval when he sees his band of miserable slobs becoming efficient and disciplined soldiers.
      • The song still sounds exactly like what a Drill Sergeant Nasty is supposed to sound like, with the language cleaned up of course.
  • Drinking Game: Take a sip whenever someone says 'honor'.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: Chi-Fu is a Non-Action Guy known for his Girly Scream, yet when told that Mulan is a hero he simply says, "She's a woman. She'll never be worth anything!" Granted, there is some room for interpreting this as something he doesn't quite mean, and more so says out of contempt for Mulan as an individual, but still...
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Used with irony; unbeknownst to Mulan, the doll was also the cause of the village's destruction.
  • Enlistment-Ending Minor Malaise: Inverted; the title character argues that her father Fa Zhou has already served in the army, sustaining heart problems and a leg injury that necessitates a cane. He will die in battle if he goes to fight the Huns when the Emperor sends conscription notices. Fa Zhou asserts it will restore honor, something Mulan lost that day by failing her matchmaker exam, and he will die "doing what is right". His wife Fa Li agrees with Mulan in private, fighting with her husband and crying before they go to bed. Since Fa Zhou has no sons that can take his place, Mulan takes her father's armor and conscription notice, posing as a man to replace him in the army.
  • Epic Fail: Mushu ends up endangering the army when he launches a cannon by accident. Fortunately, they manage to survive the arrow onslaught.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mulan shows she is resourceful and clever by making a way for her dog to feed the chickens so she has time to get ready for her appointment with the Matchmaker. Also, she is shown resorting to cheating and shows a lack of grace, even before meeting the matchmaker, suggesting that life as a trophy wife will not properly fulfill her destiny. She does get married in the sequel, but there's no indication that she's a trophy wife.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": An unusual antagonist example: if you match the story up to Real Life and accept that the "Huns" are in fact the Xiongnu, Shan Yu is not the Big Bad's name but his TITLE (also represented as Chanyu, and in either event roughly translates to "Majesty Son of Heaven").
  • Evil Laugh: Shan Yu, standing on top of the Imperial Palace's roof.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Instead of shooting at Shan Yu and killing just him, Mulan shoots at a mountaintop and creates an avalanche that wipes out most of his army, turning what could have been an inconvience for the Hun force into a victory for the Chinese.

Mushu: *flying towards the mountain* You missed!! How could you miss? He was TWO FEET IN FRONT OF YOU!!!

  • Fan Service: Shang, shirtless and swinging a pole around while singing "I'll Make A Man Out Of You". Hilariously reviewed by The Daily Show's Camp Gay film critic Frank DeCaro, who responded "Yes, PLEASE! ...And bring the pole."
    • Mulan taking a bath, though it's by no means adult. Ling, Chien Po, and Yao can all be seen shirtless in this scene though it's ironically later shown that Yao, Chien Po, and Ling wouldn't be interested in dating Mulan even if they knew she was a girl.
  • Fauxshadowing: The Matchmaker tells Mulan that she'll never bring her family honor. She seems to be right when Mulan is discovered to be a female soldier, instead of being male like the law requires. But Mulan ultimately proves her wrong.
    • In Mulan II, she's proven wrong again. She tells Yao, Chien Po, and Ling that they'll never find a love interest. Yao, Chien Po, and Ling didn't ask for too much. But then they meet the Emperor's three daughters, who for starters are just as devoted to their country as the three soldiers are.
  • Flanderization: Mushu becomes a Jerkass in the sequel. Though he at least attempts to make amends.
  • Foil: Chien Po, Yao, and Ling are all one of these to each other. Chien Po is usually calm, Yao is usually angry, and Ling is usually happy.
    • Cri-Key is this to Mushu. While Mushu wishes to be a guardian, Cri-Key doesn't mind being a servant.
    • Shang is this to Mulan. Shang is lawful while Mulan is chaotic. And while Shang has a white horse, Mulan has a black horse belonging to her father. They're not so different, however - it's indicated that Shang wasn't conscripted and he chose to follow his heart when he joined the military...much like Mulan did.
  • Foot Focus: During the bath scene.
    • This being Disney, it's the only thing they can focus on.
    • In Mulan II, one of Mulan's ancestors orders Mushu to rub her ugly feet, taking advantage of the fact that he's a servant once more. He doesn't have to follow through though because Shang decides to unite the family temples.
  • Foreshadowing: Mulan states her ideal girl (well, man, but she was in disguise at the time) would be one that speaks their mind. Shang isn't afraid to speak his mind at all.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Discussed in-universe. The Emperor notes that while the General may have an army of well-trained troops, the Emperor decides that he should conscript men from villages, believing that one man can single-handedly decide a victory, not just an army. He turns out to be right. Mulan realizes that she can use an avalanche to bury the Hun army alive...and she is the one who defeats Shan Yu in the end and rescues the Emperor.
  • Fruit of the Loon: The boys stuff their dresses with a variety of fruit, including... a banana.
  • The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: A lot of Mushu's dialog comes off this way, as is to be expected. It's usually not quite as blatant as Genie's anachronistic references were, but considering that his manner of speech alone is just Eddie Murphy straight-up, it probably counts by default.
  • Gentle Giant: Chien-Po, in contrast to Yao.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The bathing scene, especially. "There's a couple of things I know they're bound to notice!" Featuring strategically-placed objects and camera angles.
    • When Mulan's identity is found out. She's injured in the last battle with the Huns in the ribs, and while she's being treated, the doctor discovers that she's not exactly who she says she is...

Mushu: My powers are beyond your mortal imagination. For instance, my eyes can see straaaaaaight through your armor! (Mulan gasps, covers her chest with one arm and slaps him.)

    • From "A Girl Worth Fighting For":

Soldiers: You can guess what we have missed the most since we went off to war!

      • Followed by a whistle from Mushu, even!
    • And from the fight at the camp:

Mushu-as-Ping: Say that to my face, ya limp noodle!
Yao: What did you say!?

    • "...Miss Man had to take her little drag show on the road!"
    • At one point in the song "Honor To Us All", Mulan is revealed to be wearing a white dress underneath her pink one, in which two older women then make her put on.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Mulan dresses like a warrior in the original Disney cartoon but is dressed as a Chinese princess in the merchandising.
  • Good Parents: Mulan's parents
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Falls on poor Mushu's face.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: One of the "messengers" Shan Yu sends to the Emperor is killed by an archer.
    • "How many men does it take to deliver a message?" *readies bow* "One."
    • When Mulan gets slashed across the chest, she's clearly bleeding.
  • GPS Evidence: Shan Yu's falcon brings him a doll from a village to which they are en route. The doll has evidence on it -- pine tar, a white horse hair -- that tells him the Imperial Army are there.
  • Great Wall: The Trope Namer, Great Wall of China, of course. Shan-Yu and his men manage to breach it in the first five minutes. Fortunately, one brave soldier lights the signal fire, alerting China of the invasion.
  • Guile Heroine: Mulan.
  • Gym Class Rope Climb: One of the training exercises is a variation of this.
  • It Can Think: Apparently, the falcon Hayabusa realized what Mulan was planning, because he attempted to stop Mulan from lighting the rocket.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While the ancestors don't treat Mushu with respect, they did at one point allow him to be the guardian of one of them back when he was still alive...which led to his death and him joining the other ancestors in the afterlife.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Yao...which is a contrast to Chien Po, who ironically has no hair.
  • Hate Sink: Chi-Fu represents the worse aspects of Chinese society, such as sexism. Of course, the movie wouldn't be as funny if he weren't in the movie.
    • While she doesn't get nearly as much screentime, the Matchmaker is also unlikable. She docks Mulan points for speaking out of turn, even though she had called Mulan's name. Up until that point, the audience members were probably unhappy with Mulan for cheating. It's actually fun to watch her get humiliated, though she unfortunately doesn't seem to have learned from that.
  • Heroic BSOD: Mulan completely shuts down after her cover is blown (though Shang does spare her life at least) and doesn't boot back up until a handful of Huns prove themselves not quite deceased, just when the war seemed to be over.
  • Hero's Muse: The soldiers discuss this trope in the song "A Girl Worth Fighting For".
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Lampshaded with Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po in the second movie after having been told by the matchmaker that none of them would ever find matches for themselves:

Chien-Po: I guess I'll spend my life with you two.
Ling: Pass the hanky.

  • Hit You So Hard Your X Will Feel It: Mulan was told that punching and butt-slapping is a form of friendly gesture. Mulan did this to Yao in the wrong way and naturally, it caused a stir in Yao's rather short temper.

Yao: I'm gonna hit you so hard; it'll make your ancestors dizzy!

Mushu: what's the plan?
Mulan: Uh...
Mushu: You don't have a plan?

  • Inevitable Cliff
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. When walking through the ruins of a raided village, a single doll is found, as a G-rated signal that there were children killed here.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Dragon, dragon! I don't do that tongue thing."
  • I Owe You My Life: Shang to Mulan. This life-debt becomes immediately useful when Mulan is found out, and the punishment for a woman joining the army is death. Instead of killing her, Shang lets her go free. In the next scene, we're shown that he did leave her a good amount of provisions and her horse, which she promptly rode back into town after learning the Huns were alive.
  • Ironic Echo: A reprise of "Make A Man Out Of You" plays with unabashed glee while Mulan's friends are getting tarted up in full concubine drag to infiltrate the palace. Later, all four of them actually use the combat moves they were shown learning during that musical number against the Huns... still dressed as women.
  • "I Want" Song: "Reflection" and "A Girl Worth Fighting For".
  • Jerkass: Chi Fu is a chauvinist prick who condemns Mulan with the death penalty once her gender was found out, despite the fact she saved the army from the Hun army in the mountains. He tries this again after she and the others saved the Emperor and CHINA from the Huns. Some gratitude...
    • Mushu turned into this during the second film, mostly because Mulan's ancestors were jerkasses towards him and he was told he'd lose his job.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: The greatest example in Disney.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Shan Yu attempts to invoke this, but the emperor refuses. Shan decides to just kill him instead.
  • Lady of War
  • Large Ham: "I LIIIIIIIIIVVVVEEEE!!!!!!"
  • Last Villain Stand: Shan Yu after his army gets wiped out by an avalanche and his generals have been captured. He then proceeds to try and capture the emperor, and nearly succeeds.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Chien-Po may look like a Big Guy Mighty Glacier, (and he shows himself to be just as strong as he looks,) but he's as agile as a monkey.
    • Considering that Shan Yu is able to trade blows with him during the climax, he might also count, albeit as the "hard-hitting speedster" type, rather than the "fast big guy" type.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: Used when the soldiers are applying drag to infiltrate Shan Yu's guard in the royal palace (set to a brief reprise of "I'll Make A Man Out Of You", no less!).
  • Lock and Load Montage: Mulan leaving home. Has a bit of the flavor of a Transformation Sequence.
  • Longing Look: What totally gives away Mulan's crush on Shang to Mushu.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Shang is an incredibly competent and professional soldier, not even letting his father's death distract him from the task at hand. Then he starts talking to Mulan while she's a girl. Though, to be fair, by that point he didn't really need to be focused on Huns.
  • The Makeover: Twice; once in "You'll Bring Honor to Us All" and when she "becomes" a man.
  • Manly Tears: Yao at the ending.
  • Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way: During the "I'll make a man out of you" sequence they do deeds worthy of Bruce Lee.
  • Maybe Ever After: It's a Disney movie that doesn't end with a wedding.
    • ... cue sequel to 'fix' that.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Averted. The massacre of the village and the Imperial army both take place off screen, and it is still horrific. An Empathy Doll Shot is used to great effect.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: When Mulan and her squad infiltrate the Imperial Palace.
  • Model Planning: When the general describes the planned advance to his son.
  • Mood Whiplash: "A girl worth fighting-" *cut to reaction shot of destroyed village*
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Mulan is revealed to be injured after the initial defeat of the Big Bad but not mortally so. Although it could have been had she not received immediate medical attention.
  • Most Definitely Not a Girl in Disguise: Mulan trying to join the army.

Mulan: But you know how it is when you get those manly urges, and you just gotta kill something--
[tries to punch Shang on the shoulder and hurts her hand]
...uh, fix things... cook outdoors...

  • Motivation on a Stick: Mulan uses a dog (Little Runner, specifically) and bone to feed the chickens. The bone-on-a-stick is tied to the dog's back so the bone is always in front of the dog, and the dog runs around with a feedbag leaking grain behind him. This scene foreshadows how smart she is.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Captain Shang.
    • Ping is also one in-universe, according to Yao:

"I bet the local girls thought you were quite the charmer..."

  • Multigenerational Household: Mulan's household includes her parents and her grandmother.
  • The Napoleon: Yao may be short, but he sure is aggressive.
    • Mushu is even-tempered (despite literally breathing fire) but his ego does not match his size.
  • Never My Fault: Though it's rather ironic that the Lucky Cricket didn't help Mulan with her meeting with the Matchmaker, he wasn't strictly responsible for the meeting not going well. Mulan had attempted to warn the Matchmaker that Cri-Key was taking a bath in her coffee cup, but she didn't listen to her and demanded she remain silent. And when she attempted to borrow her tea cup for a second, she refused to allow her to do so. She subsquently blames Mulan for being clumsy when it spills on her.
    • Later on in the movie, all of the men blame Mulan for starting the camp fight, even though they themselves had escalated it. And yes, despite being fully grown men (or at least teenagers), they decide to blame it all on Mulan. This may be the reason why Shang chooses to punish them instead of Mulan herself.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The teaser trailer makes the film seem more like an action-adventure drama. The movie itself turns out to be a kids' musical with bits of action.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mulan's grandmother gives her a cricket to give her luck in order to help her with the matchmaker. While Mulan wasn't performing well to start with, it's obvious that the cricket ends up being a main direct cause for her failing the matchmaking.
    • Compare the fate that would have awaited her if she had succeeded in her matchmaking with what happened after she failed. Had she succeeded, she almost certainly wouldn't have joined the army in her father's place, making it very likely that not only would he have died, the Huns would have managed to succeed in their invasion. She also would not have earned the respect of the Emperor or met and won the heart of Shang, who is a better match than the matchmaker could have arranged for her. Who said that cricket wasn't a lucky one?
  • Non-Action Guy: Chi Fu.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Mulan has Mushu, who has his own Non-Dragon Sidekick in the form of Cri-Kee. Shan Yu has a falcon, as well.
  • Noodle Incident: Mushu's previous chance to prove himself worthy of protecting the Fa family somehow led Fa Thang to being decapitated. Fa Thang is still pretty bitter about the whole thing.
  • Not Quite Dead: Some of the Huns.
  • Not So Different: When Mulan asks if Yao, Ling, and Chien Po would be interested in someone who had a brain and wasn’t afraid to speak their mind…well, she’s actually describing Shang perfectly.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Chi-Fu.
  • Oh Crap:
    • Shan Yu gets several. He gets one when Mulan sets off the avalanche and an even better one when she launches him into a tower containing what seems to be half the fireworks in the country.
    • And of course, the protagonists get two good ones. First, when they find the mountain village has been utterly destroyed and that the Imperial Army led by Shang's father has been wiped out. Second time comes when they find out just how large the Hun army really is.
    • Mulan gets one when Shang enters her tent after she's bandaged up and she realizes that he knows she's a woman.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Inverted and Gender Inverted. Mulan is mid-bath when Ling, Yao and Chien-Po decide they want to wash up. The sequence is marked by Mulan sinking as low in the water as possible, desperately trying to make a hasty exit, maintain her disguise and avoid getting an eyeful of her nude comrades, who are guilelessly trying to befriend "Ping" with a little good-natured water fight.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Mulan's "Get off the roof. Get off the roof. Get off the roof!" as Shan Yu is about to be blown up in an enormous explosion.
    • A colder variant occurs earlier when everyone's outrunning the avalanche.
  • Pandaing to the Audience: Mushu disguised as a messenger delivers a fake message to Chi-Fu riding on the back of a panda.

Mushu In Disguise: What's the matter? Never seen a black-and-white before?

  • Papa Wolf: The Emperor is this to Imperial China. The ancestors and the dragons to Mulan's family.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Quite literal in "doom" part.
  • Paper Thin Disguise: Averted, though it's indicated that her father's horse knows Mulan pretty well, not even he is able to see through Mulan's disguise. It takes a thorough examination for her to be proven female.
  • Parental Abandonment: Averted. Mulan is one of the only Disney protagonists to have both parents living. She even has a grandmother as an added bonus.
  • Parent Service: Shang has a Walking Shirtless Scene.
    • Also, Mulan was in a lake naked and with three guys. Though she at least left before everyone else decided to join the trio.
  • Pet The Dog: When Mushu successfully helps Mulan come back home in one piece, the First Ancestor decides to allow him to become a guardian again.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Mulan's outfit to meet the matchmaker.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Mushu to Mulan, and Cri-kee to Mushu. Mushu seems to have the ability to break the rules of reality for his gags, brushing his teeth with a standard modern toothbrush and toothpaste, and referring to a panda as a "black-and-white", a reference to a police car.
  • Plucky Girl: Mulan doesn't let a little thing like a bleeding chest wound stop her from saving Shang's life. Hell, aside from the initial pain, she doesn't even seem to notice it until things have calmed down. Gotta love that adrenaline, eh?
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: Averted. Shan-yu is one of the few male characters in the movie to never say anything sexist against Mulan.This could be because the Huns were less sexist against women than the Chinese.
  • Politically-Correct History: Averted, many of the male characters are extremely sexist or prejudiced.
    • Also played straight in a justified way, in that if the film covered the nitty-gritty reality of the time in any depth, it would have at best gotten something in the range of an R.
    • Mulan 2 in regard to its "arranged marriage = bad" campaign. And the fact that Mulan actually got away with practically kidnapping the princesses and allowing them to marry others who weren't royalty.
      • Tropes Are Not Bad: It does tend to make for an interesting story when things don't happen exactly the way you'd expect them to in a realistic situation.
  • Putting a Hand Over His Mouth: Mulan briefly silences Mushu this way during his "dishonor" rant
  • Rage Against the Reflection: A variation, as no mirrors are broken or water splashed - it's a shiny, shiny sword.
    • Reflections are a motif in the movie - the pond at her house, the multiple ones in the ancestors' shrine (where she wipes off her makeup), the song, her helmet (which she throws to the ground), and of course the iconic sword.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: "I'll Make a Man Out of You".
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Despite being one of the most obvious Action Girl characters in Disney movies as a whole, Mulan is regarded as a bad role-model because of vaguely-feminine things like getting a boyfriend, or being motivated by saving her father, etc... see the YMMV page for details.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Emperor, who is clearly the wisest and most level headed person in the movie, especially when contrasted with Chi Fu, his obnoxious, opinionated advisor.
  • Redshirt Army: Sadly, this fate befalls the supposed "elite" army, led by Shang's father. Its to demonstrate how vicious the Huns are.
  • Refrain From Assuming: Shang's training song is called "I'll Make a Man Out of You", not "Be a Man" or "We are Man/Men".
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Revealing Injury: The medic discovers that Mulan is a woman while treating her injuries.
  • Sarashi: Technically bandages, since Mulan had been injured earlier. Inverted Trope in that the scene were they are revealed is also the scene where Mulan is busted.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: The Huns find out that a village is being guarded using a doll, sprinkled with GPS Evidence.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Shang letting Mulan live, despite the rules of executing her, as part of his I Owe You My Life debt to her earlier.
  • Setting-Off Song: "A Girl Worth Fighting For."
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Inverted intentionally as Mushu is trying to be intimidating, but he's not.
  • Shield Surf: Mushu does this during an avalanche.
  • Shirtless Scene: Shang, the gratuitousness of which Yao lampshades.

Yao: [under his breath] I'll get that arrow, pretty boy. And I'll do it with my shirt on.

  • Shrine to the Fallen: Mushu comes from the Fa family shrine to aid Mulan in her quest.
  • Small Reference Pools: Presumably how the writers had the balls to have "My duty is to myself" as the Aesop of the second film.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Mulan makes a move on a Chinese Chess board belonging to two old guys during the Matchmaker scene.
  • Snow Means Death: There's snow on the ground of the massacred village. It also starts snowing after Shang creates a memorial for his father.
    • Averted for Shan Yu and a handful of other particularly resilient Huns after the avalanche. They pop right back out of the snow. LIKE DAISIES!
  • The Spartan Way: Lets get down to business...
  • Stout Strength: Chien-Po.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Fa Zhou and The Emperor compare Mulan to "the rarest and most beautiful flower of all." (Though Mulan does translate to wood-flower or Magnolia)
  • Supernatural Aid: Mulan's ancestors send her a guardian spirit to help her. (And he does, but not quite the way they intended.)
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Shang, which obviously indicates...
  • Sweet Polly Oliver
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted. Just as Yao is on the verge of saving Mulan and Shang from getting knocked off the cliff by the avalange by firing a rope-tied arrow to them, he takes the time before grabbing the rope to say out loud that he should grab it, causing him to just miss it.
  • Technical Pacifist: Very technical, since she's a soldier who kills people on purpose. Still, with the Big Bad right in front of her, Mulan uses the sword she's holding for every purpose but the one it was built for.
  • Tempting Fate: Mulan: "I never want to see a naked man again." [cue the stampede of naked men]
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Mulan's portrayal of Ping.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: When Mulan's true gender is revealed, her friends don't trust her anymore when they really should.
    • Really, it's just Shang who's hell-bent on ignoring her warnings. Yao, Ling, and Chien Po seem like they want to believe her, but are sort of afraid to piss off their commanding officer. They're quick enough to follow her when she says she has an idea to get them into the palace.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: An angry Yao turns red after Mulan (disguised as Ping) slaps him on the behind and gives a few other hits, which he takes as offenses, before being calmed by Chien Po with chanting.
  • Throwaway Village
  • Took a Level in Badass: The "I'll Make a Man Out of You" sequence is a perfect example.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Both Mushu and the ancestors in the sequel are more of a jerkass than they were in canon, though in Mushu's case he still does the right thing in the end.
  • Training from Hell: The below training montage involved running through a field while being shot at by Arrows on Fire.
  • Training Montage:"I'll Make a Man Out of You".
  • Trampled Underfoot: Mulan's horse does this to Mushu.
  • Twelfth Night Adventure: Although one does notice that the character is drawn differently when she pretends to be a man. Look at the movie poster where half of her face is reflected in a sword. Notice her nose and jaw. The DVD Commentary flat-out admitted it.
    • The Nostalgia Chick noticed that her eyelashes disappear whenever she's disguised. Looking closely, you can see that they even momentarily vanish when she draws her hair back up to reveal her identity to Shan Yu.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Mushu. Roger Ebert said it best: "a black dude in medieval China?" This is more a function of Eddie Murphy's standard roles than anything else.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: One scene gives the general impression of this, although no indication is given of how much time has passed.
  • Vile Villain Saccharine Show: Its as comedic as any Disney movie can get but it still can make Shan-yu,a mass murdering warlord, a big terrifying threat.
  • Villain Song: Averted; Shan Yu is probably the most well-known Disney Villain to never have gotten one. One of the things the animators were going for with Shan Yu was to make him a man of few words and let his actions carry the character. Giving him a song would have completely derailed that.
  • Villainous Valour: There's a reason why Shan Yu is nowadays considered one of the most badass of Disney villains: he's strong enough to easily breaking down a barricaded door or effortlessly slicing through a massive pillar with his sword. He's also very proud of his army, as shown at the beginning when he thought it was perfect that all of China knew him and his army were there after the signal fire was lit, and when he flatly refused to avoid the Imperial troops and instead opt to take them head on, despite knowing that they are the elite of China's armies.
  • War Is Glorious: Be a Man...
  • War Is Hell: The village scene complete with Empathy Doll Shot.
    • Kudos for,"A girl worth fighting for". It shows how much of the time it is spent not winning glory or plunder but marching tediously with aching legs, and thinking insistently on the absence of food and females in whatever priority is on one's mind at the time.
  • Weapon Tombstone: When the commander--who also happens to be Shang's father--dies, Shang buries him. In the absence of anything else that hasn't been burned or destroyed, he marks the grave with his father's helmet, placed on his own sword.
  • "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: Rather touchingly, too.
  • Wham! Line: More like a wham silence at the end of "A Girl Worth Fighting For". Everyone's happy thinking about that certain girl that's waiting for them at home (or not!) and then... wham. Pillaged village.
  • Who Are You?: Mushu heads over to the fireworks area during the final battle, and is asked by the guards there, "Who are you?" He responds, "Your worst nightmare," and they flee.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Subverted. Mulan's three friends make "Concubines." "Ugly Concubines."
    • Although Mulan obviously is one.
  • Worthy Opponent: Towards the climax when Mulan reveals that it was she who destroyed the Hun army, Shan Yu isn't at all shocked of this and refers to her as "The soldier of the mountains". When he said that the look on his face is fear instead of confusion. That might show he's an honorable leader after all and doesn't bother time in the usual "I've been beaten by a woman" stuff villains usually spots even when he faces a female opponent.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Invoked Trope. "Men want girls with good taste, calm, obedient, who work fast-paced. With good breeding and a tiny waist."
    • Mulan herself plays with the trope a bit. She has the looks, is extremely devoted to her parents and desperately tries to fit in as a perfectly feminine and demure daughter... without much success. However, when she learns that her already old father will have to go to war with the Huns, she shows the core of steel part by dressing up as a male and taking his place, not for glory or to rebel against her family but to save her dad's life and the family honor.

Mulan II

  1. like daisies!!