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 broke his heart
. 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.
- 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".
- 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.
Mulan is FtM transgender.
She's kind of excited/jittery with anticipation about going before the Matchmaker, but she doesn't seem at all happy dressed that way. 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. 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. , It doesn't even drastically change her song "Reflection." It just fits even more so.
Thus, Mulan is a exploration 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. 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.
Listen to the lyrics in "Reflection". She sings of rejecting her gentle lamb self and how she feels she isn't meant to "play the part" of the bride. Keep in mind all this was before the conscription notices were passed out.
Mulan is not trans at all, just quirky and awkward.
Mulan was struggling to fit in with the guys, which wouldn't have happened if she was trans; her abnormal brain structure would have fit in like a puzzle piece, but she's a fish-out-of-water for a fair bit longer. There's nothing suggesting she feels any sort of kinship beyond friendship and commendatory with her fellow soldiers.
As for the first two songs, a girl not liking dresses and makeup does not make her trans, and it seemed more about the roughness (the cold bath, tight clothes, hair being pulled; not even the girly girls like that) that irked her in "Honor To Us All'; when all was said and done, she seemed mildly excited at best, resigned at worst, but not all-together unhappy. This and "Reflection" are along the same line; Mulan is a quirky (not necessarily unfeminine) girl, and in Ancient China's restrictive society, Mulan couldn't even imagine being anything but a "perfect porcelain doll" like the others, because there was no frame of reference for a girl to be anything else. In "Reflection", she can barley articulate what she wants, only that the girl she sees in the water is like a stranger to her. She's not necessarily uncomfortable with her body, she just generally feels like an outsider.
The real moment of truth is actually during the incredibly underrated score of "Short Hair". Mulan, who was previously going only by what others said, is making a choice for herself and running off to the war. In the camp, Mulan is every bit as awkward as she was with the matchmaker, only on a different plane. The difference is that she couldn't just go home after all the worry she's probably caused her family, she had to stick it out as long as she could. It's got nothing to do with "who she really is", it's more to do with her basically being forced to stick with something until she finally found her niche.
One of Mulan's ancestors was a traveler from Europe
One of Mulan's ancestors notably doesn't look remotely Asian. It's possible they have European blood and thus European features. There are Romans who got captured at Carrhae (53 BC) and force-marched east—some say until they reached the outskirts of the Chinese empire. Then there's the Tocharians, a "white" European people, who 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.
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.
- This 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 not a fabrication.
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.)
- Why not? Even if Shang's small platoon had made it through the pass undiscovered, sooner or later the Hun army would have come down, meeting them at a place other than a choke point where the army could be destroyed by a single rocket. There would have been one small skirmish, not even worth mentioning in the history books, then on to the capital.
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, and 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?
- 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
She might've gone home, passed her matchmaker test fairly this time with her newly earned discipline and got betrothed to Shang. Shang begins to think his new bride looks awfully familiar...
Mulan and Shang will name 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 the 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 treason and joined the Huns to help them wage war on his father, a la Mordred.
Mushu will be tight with Shang's ancestors.
Mostly because Mulan's ancestors tend to be jerkasses
towards Mushu. 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. But by only a speck of blood from millenia ago, so it's not realy incest. It's like that "my great great great great grandad was your great great great great grandad's brother" sort of thing.
How else would it have survived? It's also how Shan Yu was able to pop out of the snow, "like a daisy!"
In a deleted scene from the movie, it is shown that Shan Yu has 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 awfully sprightly for an ancient warhorse. It also explains why Mushu was a bit rude to him throughout the movie. There's more than one redemption story going on here.
- Additionally, 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. Then 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.
- And that makes sense how...?
Chi-Fu is a eunuch.
It would explain why he's so effeminate, and why he's always so angry. 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!
- As posited here.
- Related, this might mean that the "girl back home who loves (him) like no other" actually is his mother.
Chi-Fu is gay.
Of course the above makes more sense, but he does have some very interesting
mannerisms, and even if his dislike of women mostly stems from sexism he just seems to have this pure "girls are gross
!" attitude, not a "Girls are gross but kind of pretty" Even if he sings a line in "A girl worth fighting for", he's the only singer who doesn't say what about girls he finds attractive
, because he doesn't
find girls attractive, period. He joins in the song purely to socialize (and to one up the soldiers, which, of course, backfires)
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 the cricket correctly because the cricket told 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" 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, 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.
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).
Chi-Fu is the most badass character in the movie.
Recall the "I'll Make a Man Out of You" sequence, where Shang brings in the weights that are so heavy they more or less immobilize everyone who puts them on. Notice that Chi-Fu is carrying the box containing them, and it only mildly troubles him. Chi-Fu could have won the war by himself had he actually given a shit, and he only acts the way he does in the movie because he wants to know what this strange feeling called "cowardice" feels like.
George Lucas is a fan.
Take a good look at Shan Yu... where else could Lucas possibly have gotten the idea for Darth Maul's/Sidious'/Vader's Sith eyes?
The Cricket really is lucky.
If the meeting with the matchmaker had gone well chances are Mulan would have been too busy, by hook or crook, with her wedding arrangements. Only through the cricket's interventions she was in the right place and time to overhear the military call, to decide to go in her father's place, and thus set the movie proper in action. Her momentary bad luck led to future fortune.
How they got there was a mystery, considering all they carried was a rug.
Had he gone instead of Mulan, Fa Zhou would not have been sent to the war.
He's a distinguished veteran with an injury that prevents him from being able to fight. He's practically tailor-made to train new recruits, either alongside Shang or simply taking over his role entirely.
If Mulan was executed
- Khan would have been either sold into slavery or worse, slaughtered. Mushu would have left in disgrace, too ashamed to return to the Fa family, or discovered and captured by Chi-Fu and the Chinese Army. Cri-Kee would have had a Heroic BSoD and would have frozen to death in the mountain snow, or Squished by Chi-Fu.
- The rest of the Chinese army would have been killed attempting to rescue the Emperor. Chi-Fu Would halved served Shan Yu, and help him and the Huns Kill the Fa Family for Mulan's so called treason.
- Shan Yu and the Huns would have killed the Emperor, proclaimed Shan Yu the new emperor and thus would have conquered all of China.
If there were Europeans in the film
If there were Europeans in the film, one of them would have been shocked after Mulan was exposed, and would tell his comrades about this. They would try to rescue Mulan, and the song "Savages", from Pocahontas, would have been used.
Chi-Fu wasn't in the Emperor's good graces even before his actions in the imperial city
Some people have pointed out that it's unlikely the emperor's advisor would be sent to deliver conscriptions and oversee a small troop of a fledgeling commander. It's possible that the emperor wasn't oblivious to his brown nosing and unpleasant attitude and this was a sort of "last chance" thing or some sort of punishment. His treatment of the Emperor's savior was just the last straw.
- Clearly a Champion calling, and probably Court of Hearts going by her emphasis on her duties to her family and especially her father. It would help explain how she managed to improve so quickly in the "I'll make a man out of you" montage, she was picking up useful Charms on top of developing mundane skill. And Holy Shield helps explain how she survived some of the stunts she pulled.