6 Little-Known Reasons Why Mulan Is Completely Underrated
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6 Little-Known Reasons Why Mulan Is Completely Underrated

"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all."

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6 Little-Known Reasons Why Mulan Is Completely Underrated
Joseph Patrick Canter

Anyone who knows me knows that "Mulan" is my absolute favorite Disney movie, but I seem to be the only one who feels that way. "Mulan" is a phenomenal story, but why? Here are some reasons why "Mulan" is my favorite movie, and why it should also be yours!

1. It is based off of a real story.

Most of the Disney princesses are based off of entirely fictional stories. The magic fairies, the pumpkin carriage, the talking animals...they all are fantasy. "Mulan" is based off a real story, though! Well, sort of. The story of Mulan is based off of an old Chinese legend about Hua Mulan. This was not the first production to feature Mulan's story; there were numerous TV shows, movies, and different works of literature as well! But the 1998 Disney film was obviously the best one.

2. George Takei, Eddie Murphy, Donny Osmond and Jackie Chan are all a part of the movie.

You probably knew Eddie Murphy played Mushu, but did you know some other famous actors were featured in the film? George Takei played the family's First Ancestor, Donny Osmond sang for the voice of Li Shang and Jackie Chan played General Li Shang in the Chinese version.


3. It has a TON of hidden meaning!

Where? When? Why?!

She cuts her hair. Not only does this scene have one of the best songs that you cannot find on the soundtrack, but it is one of the best scenes. I once heard through the grapevine that cutting her hair was an important symbol to Chinese culture. Apparently, women were expected to keep their hair long. Mulan cutting her hair was a symbol for her "cutting" herself off from society and their expectations.

"With good fortune and a great hairdo, you'll bring honor to us all!”

Two of her ancestors are a reference to the famous painting "American Gothic."

"Not to mention, they'll lose the farm!"

She has a dog named Little Brother that also appears in "Tarzan," but also is a reference to a version of the original story. A lot of people knew the first one, but did you know that one legend gave her a younger brother, and she goes in his place instead of her father's? The movie gave the dog the name Little Brother to reference this version of the legend!

Hua Mulan (or as some people say, Fa Mulan) literally translates to "Magnolia Flower." The magnolia is used as an archetype throughout the film to reference this. When Mulan and her father are talking under a flowering tree, that is a magnolia tree. A lot of people assume it is a cherry blossom, but Disney did its homework. The cherry blossom tree is native to Japan, whereas the magnolia is native to China. The flowers themselves are nicknamed the "Mulan flower."


"My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one's late. But I'll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all."

4. It blurs gender roles and expectations and says that both genders and their skills are super important.

Mulan spends the entire movie training to become physically fit and fighting against her own expectations as a woman in Chinese culture. At the very end of the film, they really address the issue that both genders have their own conventions that can be useful.

The soldiers end up using "feminine skills" to save the emperor. The movie emphasizes how crucial both male and female roles are, but that they can be used by both. Mulan, in her traditional female role, is meant to be silent and passive. However, she abandons her role and becomes the best soldier of the Chinese Imperial Army. At the end, the men also give up their conventional roles by dressing as women. They use their wraps to scale the building, and the fans come in handy for catching Shan Yu's sword.

Aren't convinced about this? Think of the two different ways she battled Shan Yu. One was with a firework, which she learned to set off in her war training, and basically used more of a physical approach to defeat him momentarily. She was fitting in to what was expected of her at the time, which didn't work (spoiler, he survives). At the end of the movie, she uses the fan, something typically seen as a symbolism of passivity, to catch Shan Yu's sword and turn on him to prepare to fight. She uses both to her advantage in the same swoop, and the writers say we should too. This is emphasized even more when China bows to her, a woman, for embracing herself and saving China.


Shan Yu: "Looks like you're all out of ideas."
Mulan: "Not quite."

Remember at the end of the movie, when Shan Yu is about to kill Shang and Mulan steps in? Let me refresh your memory...


"The soldier from the mountains."

Notice how he doesn't even flinch. This was the longest GIF I could find of the scene, but he immediately turns on her. He doesn't say, "But wait you're a girl," or, "Nah, sorry girl, that can't be you." This is because, in Hun culture, women were seen as equal status, if not higher up, than some men. They were allowed to fight in the Hun army. Shan Yu didn't even flinch, because why would he? To him, Mulan was just another soldier.

5. It took a super-duper long period of time and a ton of dedication to make.

It took 700 artists, animators and technicians to work on the film, which took 5 years to finish. To fuel all of the people working on the film for that long, they brewed over 1,630 pounds of coffee. With the average coffee cup being eight ounces, that means they had about 58,680 cups of coffee on set. A single worker, then, would have averaged about 83 cups in those five years. This was the first Disney movie to come out as a DVD, so they wanted to make sure they made it well!

6. Nine honorable mention fun facts:

1. The animation for the opening was all just watercolor on rice paper.

2. It was the first Disney animation to deal with warfare, the first Disney movie to feature an Asian heroine and the first Disney movie to be released on DVD.

3. It was almost rated PG strictly for the use of the word "cross-dresser" by one of the ancestors.

"My children never caused such trouble. They all became acupuncturists. [...] Your great-granddaughter had to be a cross-dresser!"

4. The movie is said to have "launched Christina Aguilera's American career," as she sang "Reflection" for the soundtrack. After the song reached popularity, she was signed with RCA Records.

5. Mulan was one of two Disney princesses to wear pants, the second being Princess Jasmine from "Aladdin."

6. There are a few references to other movies. These include Mushu exclaiming, "Rise and shine Sleeping Beauty!" and when Mushu opens up bat wings and exclaims, "Citizens I need firepower! [...] Your worst nightmare" which is a reference to "Batman." The movie also features parallels to "Pulp Fiction," "The Lion King," and "Aladdin."

7. There are hidden Mickeys in the film, most notably on Shang's horse's neck and rear. Picture included because it is definitely needed.

8. A cricket is the universal symbol of good luck in Chinese culture. The creation of Cri-Kee only occurred because an animator continuously slipped sketches of him underneath the directors' door to try to convince them to add him to the movie, and obviously it worked.

9. Animators made sure to include themselves in the film. Their names can be seen in the Ancestor Temple written on the walls, and the two directors make a cameo towards the end, in the same scene where Mushu references Batman.


From the history to the hidden meanings to the amount of work on the set, Mulan is one of the most unique Disney movies released. Have you learned anything new from here (I sure hope you have), or do you know any fun facts crucial to the story that I didn't mention? Let me know!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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