Mulan: History and the Movie


By Holly M., Team DPCC


Disney’s live-action Mulan adaptation is now streaming on Disney+. Mulan is one of Disney’s strongest figures as she challenges gender norms and proves that inner strength exists in everyone. Now more than ever we can’t wait to see her on our home silver screens.

Revisit some of the most memorable moments from the original animated feature. Plus, learn about the historical Mulan and Chinese history below.


Mulan 2020: What to Look For

The 1998 animated feature has plenty of memorable moments. Here are a few we hope to see in the upcoming live-action movie.

Mulan Meets the Matchmaker

Watching Mulan attempt to be “ladylike” is funny enough. It is this moment that we glimpse her destiny beyond the expectations and limitations others place on her.

“Reflection” Sequence

“Reflection” is one of the most defining scenes of Mulan’s story. Here, she discovers the strength of growing into the individual she is meant to be.

Mulan Cuts Her Hair/Takes Her Father’s Place in the Army

With all the courage in the world, Mulan steps forward to prove her bravery. She does so out of the compassion she has for her family and the duty she has to her home. This monumental scene makes her one of Disney’s strongest “princesses”.

“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” Training Montage

Catchy and hilarious, the song accompanies Mulan’s efforts to fit in and rise to the challenge of service.

Mountain Fight

Members of the army show their honor as they battle the invaders.

The Final Battle

Mulan battles as a heroine of her country. Here, she claims her identity and wins the fight for China.

The Emperor Bows

In the most powerful scene of the movie, the country’s ruler bows to Mulan’s great courage, bravery, and strength.

Mulan and History

Mulan is one of the most beloved Disney “princesses”. While you enjoy the new live action film, be sure to spend some time educating yourself on the inspiration for the film.

The story of Hua Mulan comes from fifth or sixth century CE, originating from a poem titled ‘Ballad of Mulan’. The character of Mulan herself has been questioned by many as to whether she was an actual person or just a folkloric legend. During this period China was separated into North and South regions, the north being home to the ancestrally nomadic peoples.

According to the original text, the story goes that Mulan took her father’s place in the army and went on to fight for over ten years. After, returning she refuses a reward and instead returns home to live quietly with her family.

The ballad might be portraying a fictional character, but the war at its center was very real with the Northern Wei State and the Rouran State comprised of several Mongolic ethnic groups. During and after the Tang Dynasty, the story of Mulan became a popular story to retell and her character became incorporated into several other Chinese writings over the ages.

Today, the story is used to instill — among other traits — courage and honor in young girls.


Learn More About Mulan

These pop culture resources offer exciting stories with history and similar themes to those found in Mulan. Enjoy!


“Hua Mulan: Legendary Woman Warrior” (Jiang, Xu).
“The Ballad of Mulan” (Maogian 2006).
“Mulan” (Cortes, Ehrbar, Foster 2020).

Historical Fiction:

“The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan” (Thomas 2019).
“China between Empires” The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China)” (Lewis 2011).
“A Brief History of China: Dynasty, Revolution and Transformation: the Incredible Story of the World’s Oldest and Most Populous Nation” (Clements 2019).