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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Shang was angry at Mulan after The Reveal not because of honor, but because he is gay.
"Ping" just saved his life, there had to be something going on besides "honor" that would make him so pissy about Ping turning out to be a girl. They had a few good moments before then, and it's not unreasonable to speculate that he began to respect Ping for "his" accomplishments during training (not to mention Ping's supposedly good looks). So Ping turning out to be a girl pretty much broke his heart, and he was unable to think rationally for some time after that, explaining his strange behavior afterwards. At the end he finally got over his heartbreak over "Ping" and accepted Mulan's true identity. And the film does not explicitly show them hooking up. Instead, Mulan and Shang become Platonic Life Partners.
  • This is shown to be false by the sequel.
  • ...what if you don't count Disney sequels as canon? And although this troper hates to defend that atrocity of a sequel, even if Shang was gay, it only takes you to believe in the "Mulan is transgender" theory for the relationship to work.
  • This makes so much sense. Also think about the fact that this is one of the few Disney animated films in which The Heroine does not share a kiss with The Guy/Hero, not to mention that Shang is the only major protagonist that doesn't sing any lines in "A Girl Worth Fighting For".
  • OBJECTION, you canned your own argument because them being Platonic Life Partners means that Shang is straight or bi, not to mention they bear a fire forged bond (besides, after what she did, what straight dude wouldn't want her?)
    • Trope names =/= trope meanings.
    • For those just joining us, Platonic Life Partners was once "The Straight Will And Grace".
  • This doesn't quite fit with how twitterpated he's acting at the end. Seems he's plenty into Mulan as a girl.
  • Well, there's plenty going on to justify Shang's anger - the deception, as well as the difficult choice of whether to uphold the law. Not to mention that he had very recently suffered a serious personal loss along with the horror of the Chinese army's defeat. Emotions were running pretty high. This doesn't necessarily undermine the theory on principle, though he doesn't necessarily have to be gay to be attracted to "Ping." He could be bisexual or something similar. Old China was generally more tolerant of bi/homosexual behavior than Christian dominated Europe (at least of the men - provided they fulfilled their social commitments to family), so it's not too much of stretch to hypothesize Shang might have been treading along the more ambiguous tiers of the Kinsey scale. It's Mulan/Ping's actions and personal qualities that forged a bond between them, not her gender. It could certainly make some interesting fiction if properly explored.
  • Maybe he was straight, got all hard for ping (if only because of random female pharemone showing up around him) , and when he finally began accpeting he may be a little gay, had a wet Ping involved dream, liked it, decided he may be a little gay, then found out Ping is a woman ANDOHMYFUCK AM I GAYANYWAY?!?!?!?! Moment. Immediatly after his dad died.
  • Maybe Shang IS gay, but has an If It's You, It's Okay thing when he finds out Mulan is a woman.
  • Shang is Mulansexual!
  • I always saw it that he was not gay, per say, but that he DID develop feelings for Ping, which he tried to deny to himself. When he discovered Mulan was indeed a girl, that made his feelings traditionally "acceptable" (not necessarily in real ancient China but at least in the world of this movie, where the other soldiers sang about the women they wanted to cook for them and fawn over them) but would also make him admit he fell in love with someone he thought was a man. So he had anger, which he unfairly directed at Mulan, for his complicated feelings. Reminded me of this line from Never Been Kissed when Josie expects Rob to happily surprised by her age but instead he is angry: "What, you were hoping . . . that IŽd be happy? Why? Because it turns out I was allowed to be attracted to you?"
  • Alternativel being with a girl who ran away to join the army simply has more consaquences than being with a male soldier.

Mulan is FtM transgender.
Come on, it makes so much sense! Especially if combined with the theory above.
  • Although she likes dressing up at the beginning of the film.
    • Transgender people can be transvestites. (That is, someone who doesn't identify with their physical sex can still find it pleasurable to dress as it.)
    • She didn't seem to like it much either.
      • Yeah, isn't that part of the point of the scene? She's kind of excited/jittery with anticipation about going before the Matchmaker, but she doesn't seem at all happy dressed that way. Which, FTM or not, is why all the pretty Mulan merchandise with her all dolled up is a huge wall banger for this troper.
      • Though if you think about it, she's really nervous and happy with the thought of "I'll finally please my family." Throughout the whole song "Honor To Us All", she doesn't seem to be really enjoying the make-over or dress-up she's being put through. Only until her family seems so proud of her does she finally seem to not mind it. Personally, I've always seen her as androgynous both appearance and gender-wise because she doesn't fully fit into the norm she's supposed to, but when she goes into the army as a man, and with being a man in ancient China she finally has this sort of freedom to express who she really is. Honestly, saying she's FTM isn't impossible at all. And in saying that, it doesn't even drastically change her song "Reflection." It just fits even more so.
      • My take: She's happy that she looks beautiful and is nicely dressed, as anyone would, but she doesn't like the uncomfortable restrictions of the clothes, and she ultimately feels that playing the sweet, delicate porcelain doll is no life for her. Nothing seems unfeminine to me on any count.
    • That would certainly put a different twist on "When Will My Reflection Show Who I Am Inside?"
      • This troper knows plenty of other trans people of the same age who like the song for that reason. Or find it absolutely effing heartbreaking. Usually both.
      • I can confirm that, and the 'both' part. Though I usually sing it to myself with all the pronouns flipped.
      • Always thought that's what the song was about, still hard to watch that part without feeling sad.
  • In ancient China?
    • Trans people have existed all throughout time. It's not that hard to believe one could exist in ancient China.
    • A person can be transgender without having gender-reassignment surgery.
  • You do realize that a girl can be a Genki Girl/Tomboy and straight, right?
    • The term here is cisgender, not straight.
    • Right. We're talking about gender here, not sexuality.
  • The only problem with this theory is that implies a certain level of gender essentialism - i.e. that certain characteristics must be indicative of a male or female persona, rather than being fundamentally neutral. Mulan's internal conflict does not seem significantly centered on her female identity so much as how to express the individual aspects of that identity in harmony with the expectations of her culture. She lacks agency within the confines of her life, which is the root of a lot of her esteem and self-worth issues. The Mulan we see after the war is far more mature and self-assured, without having completely rejected her feminine identity. This being said, it's a definite possibility that could be explored, since we're speaking of a time period where the entire concept of transgender would've been ill-defined, if acknowledged at all in old China's sharply defined gender paradigms.

Mulan is related to Marco Polo.
You ever notice how one of her ancestors doesn't look remotely Asian? The only way that's possible is if he were a European traveler, ergo, Marco Polo is an ancestor of Mulan.
  • Except Mulan takes place long, long before Marco Polo was even born. Mulan probably takes place during the Han Dynasty (that was when the Xiongnu/Huns were a major steppe power and threat to China, and that was one of the periods during which Chinese governments devoted a lot of time to Great Wall building (Shan Yu mentions that the Great Wall was recently built, indeed during the reign of the same emperor)). Marco Polo visited China during the Yuan Dynasty, when the primary steppe power was the Mongols (who conquered China to establish the Yuan dynasty).
    • Which still doesn't mean she couldn't have a Western ancestor. What about all those Romans who got captured at Carrhae (53 BC) and force-marched east - some say until they reached the outskirts of the Chinese empire?
    • Doesn't even need to be the Romans of Carrhae. The Tocharians, a "white" European people, settled in what is now Xinjiang in ancient times, and even today the Uyghurs of Xinjiang often have European features.

The Great Stone Dragon was helping Mulan all along.
Right before she decides to go to the army, Mulan is seen sitting right at the foot of the statue of the Great Stone Dragon in the rain. It noticed her plight and plan, and being the greatest and most powerful of the guardians, decided to help her without anyone needing to awaken it first. So, the Great Stone Dragon followed Mulan in spirit form (or more fantastically, it somehow imbued her with its essence), which is why Mulan never died or was discovered before she had earned enough good favor with Shang to dodge execution, and why she was able to escape Shan Yu twice. This also explains why the statue of it crumbled so easily - with the guardian itself gone, that statue was just a useless hunk of rock waiting to fall.
  • That's incredibly heartwarming. You made this troper enjoy the movie even more now.

Mushu and the Great Stone Dragon are really the same guardian.
Mushu was once the mighty Great Stone Dragon, but as penance for screwing up, the ancestors not only stripped him of his guardian status, but drained his spirit of its powers, rendering him a small dragon with almost no combat prowess, and erasing his memories as well. They intended to send him after Mulan from the beginning, as a chance at redemption for him, but they didn't want to remind him of his past before he earned his place again by proving he could be a good guardian without all the powers of the Great Stone Dragon. To this end, they sent him out to "awaken" a fake statue of himself, knowing that it wouldn't work and Mushu would take after Mulan himself. However, some of them were secretly hoping that he would fail or get himself killed, and were still hesitant to allow him to be a guardian again, hence the grudging expression on the ancestor's face when he restores Mushu to his position as a guardian. This also explains why nobody seemed to give the fact that Mushu destroyed the statue of the Great Stone Dragon any importance.
  • That would also explain why the ancestor didn't act suspicious about Mushu's Paper-Thin Disguise when he was holding up the statue's head and pretending he was the Great Stone Dragon.

The message Mushu gave the emperor's adviser was actually true.
Given the initial strategies of General Li and that they ended up near the pass to Beijing, and that Cri-kee's initial draft for Mushu, it's possible the letter was true, just not sent by the general. The letter might have even gone like this: "My son, we're guarding the pass, but our scouts report that the Hun army is vastly more powerful than us. We need you to bring whatever men you can to the pass with cannons, so that we will have the capacity to defeat them, and come immediately." So though the letter was false, the words were in a sense true, and through the lie, Mushu helped save China. (His accident with the rocket later though would be better to not have happened.)

If things with the Matchmaker had gone well at the beginning of the film, Mulan would have ended up married to Shang anyway
Although granted, Shang would probably have been dead due to the Huns, but we'll ignore that for a moment. Mulan's father is obviously a war hero, probably one of pretty great renown considering General Li and Chi-Fu both knew who he was. ("The Fa Zhou?" "I didn't know Fa Zhou had a son!") For such a great hero, who only has a single daughter, the matchmaker could only consider a family of somewhat equal standing. Who better than the son of a current general?
  • Somebody write that fic, now!
  • In early drafts of the film, Mulan and Shang were to be engaged. They wouldn't have known who they were engaged to, all they would have known was that they were engaged. They were going to be given a set of necklaces that were two halves of a whole. Mulan was going to be very upset about marrying a man that she didn't know, especially after developing feelings for Shang. Part of her reason for running away was also to have been her fear of an arranged marriage. The two would not know that they were the other's betrothed until the wedding.

If Mulan hadn't been discovered as a man, she would have ended up married to Shang anyway
Related to the above. She might've gone home, passed her matchmaker test fairly this time with her newly earned discipline and is betrothed to Shang. But Shang begins to think his new bride looks awfully familiar...
  • This smells of a good fic...

Mulan and Shang will name their first son "Ping".
No guesses why.
  • Or they'll nane their first child Ping regardless of the sex; it is a fairly androgynous name, depending on the characters used.

San Yu is the Emperor's Bastard.
Think about it. When he is first mentioned, what's the situation? Chi Fu exclaimed, "No one can get past The Great Wall!", and when his name is mentioned, it's as if that alone explains how. Add to that the emperor suddenly deciding shit just got real, and you have the seeds of my theory. Now, add in Shan Yu's obsession with proving himself, not to the Chinese people, not to the Huns... he wants the Emperor to acknowledge him. He calls him old man. Regular Chinese soldiers recognize him on sight. Clearly the Emperor's bastard wanted to be acknowledged, and when he was denied, he threw a hissy fit in the form of blatant treatury and joined the Huns to help them wage war on his father, ala Mordred.

Mushu will be tight with Shang's ancestors.
Mostly because Mulan's ancestors tend to be jerkasses towards Mushu. And as the ending of Mulan II would indicate, they won't like Shang's ancestors. And they'll likely be annoyed by Mushu's friendship with them.
Shang will have one ancestor in common with Mulan
This will make things weird between Mulan's ancestors and Shang's ancestor, knowing that because of a fling that happened waaaaay back when, the two new lovers are related.
By only a speck of blood from mllenia ago, so it's not realy incest.
  • You mean the whole 'my great great great great grandad was your great great great great grandad's brother' sort of thing?
    • Considering Anthropology... confirmed. Though it might have to be a waaaaaaays longer than that.

The hawk is a Horcrux.
How else would it have survived?

The falcon is Shan-yu's guardian.
In a deleted scene from the movie,it showed Shan-yu having the power to look through his falcon's eyes.It could mean that the falcon is meant to watch over him.

There was more than one Guardian involved. Khan (the horse) was also a Guardian
Definitely smarter and braver than your average horse, and likely Mulan's father's old warhorse. The Guardians seem to be based on the creatures of the chinese zodiac (monkey and boar are shown). When Fa Zhou came home from the war with a bad limp, the Guardian that was supposed to have kept him safe from harm was punished by the ancestors and paid penance by staying in his mortal form. This explains why the horse was super intelligent, as well as being awfully sprightly for an ancient warhorse. Also explains why Mu Shu was a bit rude to him throughout the movie. There's more than one redemption story going on here.
  • That makes perfect sense. Warhorses required a great deal of time and effort to train so they wouldn't panic under the conditions on a battlefield, and could be very expensive as a result. Considering how badly Fa Zhou was injured in the last war, they would probably not buy a new warhorse to replace the old one when it died, as there would be no real need. And when you compare how long horses live on average and when the last war took place, this idea makes the most sense.

Mulan and the little girl who lost her doll are the same person.
  • That would suggest that the village in the Pass that is completely destroyed is Mulan's home village, which is disproven at the film's end — the village is standing safe and sound.

Chi Fu is a eunuch.
It would explain why he's so effeminate, and why he's always so angry.
  • Well... Given how the vast majority of the emperor's male servants would have been eunuchs (if we're actually going for historical accuracy, anyway)... Not only does this theory explain a lot about Chi Fu, it has basis in fact, too!

Mushu suffers from some form of agnosia
Mushu is not trying to insult anybody when he calls Khan a cow; he truly does see Khan as a cow. He also rides a panda of all things when delivering his forged message. It was not because he couldn't find a better ride, given that there were other horses on the camp that he could blackmail into helping him; it was because he saw the panda as an actual horse. He manages to identify correctly the cricket because, well, the cricket did tell him he was a "lucky cricket" from the start. He might also see himself as a dragon because, for him, it is his Informed Species. Given that he was released from his duties as a guardian, it's possible that the agnosia is part of his punishment.
  • His joke about not being a lizard and "not doing that tongue thing *does that tongue thing*" now makes a lot of sense in this context; his only cue that he is a dragon and not a lizard is that lizards do "the tongue thing"; he might ACTUALLY be a lizard (except that he breathes fire) for all he knows.

Mushu is the spirit of a smith's cooling stream.
He belongs to the stream of one of those blacksmiths who use running water instead of a still trough in their forging. This caused him to breathe steam when he gained a corporeal form, and eventually fire, and made him hot-tempered like a tiger. This is why the ancestors don't accept him as a dragon- because to them, he isn't one, he's just a fire-breathing lizard-spirit who happened to come from a stream like a dragon.

Fa Li has suffered miscarriages.
It seems odd that Mulan is an only child, plus an only daughter, in a society where women are pressured to bear sons. Also, both her parents look considerably older than her, I'd say 50 something while she's in her early 20's if that old. Possibly, Li had a lot of miscarriages or kids that got sick and died before she had Mulan. It's also quite likely that a young Mulan asked for a little brother (possibly too young to know how babies were made at the time) and her parents, rather than go through the heartbreak of another miscarriage, decided to get her a puppy instead. That would be the dog called Little Brother.

Mulan was born in the spring, late winter at least.
In Chinese tradition, a baby isn't officially named until they are 100 days old. (If Fa Li did have miscarriages, she may have called her daughter "Not This One" in the meantime.) This gives parents plenty of time to think of a name. Mulan's parents may have looked at the blossoming magnolia tree in their yard and thought "Mulan" was a pretty name for a girl. (They call it the "mu lan tree" in the sequel. "Mu lan" means "wood orchid" in Chinese and is used for the magnolia.) When the movie begins, the tree is in blossom. Likely, Mulan's birthday was recent and her parents considered her just old enough to start thinking about marriage.

Mulan is the guardian Dragon- or at least carrying his spirit.
When Mulan makes her decision to join the army, she is standing at the foot of the great stone dragon. When she was born the spirit of the guardian was reborn within her. Which is why Mushu couldn't wake him up- the spirit within the stone dragon was already gone.

The "girl back home who's not like any other"? Chi-Fu's daughter.
Chi-Fu seems a bit old to have a "girl" back home, and not a wife or a "woman". He might just be lying, but it seems plausible (and a liiiittle bit heartwarming) for him to respect exactly one female on the planet, the one who has him wrapped around her little finger: his three- or four-year-old daughter. The sideways glares weren't because Yao had seen through his lie, it's because they were boorish brats who wouldn't understand a man's love for his progeny (especially when said offspring is a female, in third-or-whateverth-century China).

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