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Mulan - What sets the 1998 classic apart from its fellows?

Analyse and discuss what makes Mulan different from (and arguably better/richer than) other Disney movies. Factors to discuss include the incredible historical story (based off a real Chinese legend), the fantastic music and most importantly, the heroine. Mulan is brave, smart and selfless. This is a girl who risks her life to save her father, serves her country and even saves her male love interest (rather than the other way around). She fights well physically but combines this stereotypically male approach with creative smarts and subtle tactics which represent a more feminine approach. Her character is not reduced to a basic caricature such as tomboy, sassy cynic, ladylike woman, or silly gushing girl. Mulan is a fantastic, multifaceted personality and the movie celebrates this by showing that Mulan succeeds ultimately because she embraces her whole self and brings a unique perspective and approach situations. It is arguable that no other Disney movie has quite lived up to quality of Mulan, whether by story, music or heroine standards.

  • Love the topic! It might also be beneficial to compare/contrast Mulan to other Disney women. For example, Ariel saves Eric's life--but she's also whiny, headstrong, and spoiled, unlike Mulan. Belle selflessly sacrifices her freedom for her dad, but doesn't stand up to the Beast or fight physically, the way Mulan does in serving/saving her country. Esmeralda also saves her male love interest but is arguably "reduced to...a sassy cynic" in a lot of her scenes. Additionally, discuss the facets of Mulan's personality--compare when she's more traditionally feminine vs. when she's trying to pass herself off as a man, and how/if her personality changes. – Stephanie M. 7 years ago
  • Interesting, but for the person who picks this up, just remember that there are A LOT of articles on this site about Disney women. I suggest you read all of them and figure out how this one stands out from the rest. – Christen Mandracchia 7 years ago
  • The fact that it's a war movie makes her character stand out most. She's socially awkward and clumsy, but she still joins the army to save her father. That takes sacrifice and courage on its own, but she later grows more confidant and takes more risks. She even taking leadership in the final battle. Like you said, her character isn't based on some trope, she's just doing what needs to be done. Her humility is another admirable trait, as seen when she turns down a position in the palace to return home. What makes her realistic is how she reflects real-life soldiers. They know the sacrifice they're making, but they would give anything to see their families again. We didn't have a character arc like Mulan's until Moana came out eighteen years later. – MaryJane 7 years ago