The Hero’s Journey: As Seen in Mulan


Emily Kelly, Editor

A film that is very courageous and follows a hero’s journey is Mulan. This story is about an only child, Mulan, who takes the place of her ill father in an attempt to save the family’s honor. She is able to ward off the Hun invasion and save the country. In Walt Disney’s Mulan, directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook, Mulan embarks on a hero’s journey throughout the film.

The initial two stages of the hero’s journey are birth and destiny. The birth is how the hero begins before they know of the journey they will soon pursue. Mulan is in her ordinary life at the beginning of the movie. She is seen being dressed accompanied by her mother and grandmother as she is going to see the matchmaker. The matchmaker is the one to decide if Mulan is fit to be a bride. The matchmaker, after analyzing Mulan, says she never will be able to be a bride. This brought dread amongst Mulan as she was now a disgrace and disappointment to her family. This is her first step of the journey, birth. She is a universal character as she is just an average Chinese girl going to get fitted to be a bride, but is unique in her definition as unfit and how she will soon go into battle with men.  Destiny is the next step in the hero’s journey that Mulan embarks on. Her destiny begins when the government shows up to her city explaining how war will begin and how one man from each family has to fight. Even though this act is illegal, Mulan decides to dress herself up as a man and go on her way to the army camp. Her father (the only man in the family) was sick and she didn’t want to let him go. This shows destiny and fate as it was Mulan’s way to gain respect and honor from the family back. Her being the only daughter, and her father being sick, leads her to fight in this war. This is Mulan’s destiny.

The next two steps of the hero’s journey are receiving advice from a wise elder and having a foe or enemy. Mulan’s wise elderly advice came from her past elders. They all wake up as Mulan is leaving for war and decide to send the greatest guardian to protect Mulan. Lamentably this doesn’t work out as expected and Mushu, a dragon, gets sent with Mulan. Mushu is guidance for Mulan and gets her through lots of obstacles. Without the involvement of her ancestors, Mulan presumably would not have endured the conflict as effectively as she had. The next step of the hero’s journey is the development of foes or allies. Immediately as Mulan reaches the training camp she makes enemies with the men by whom she is surrounded. Mulan’s greatest allies and aids are Mushu and Cri-Kee, and they guide her through her journey as she goes out to war. They are support, comfort, and friends to Mulan.

The following steps of the hero’s journey are finding romance and the final battle. Mulan finds an interest in her army general, Li Shang. Mulan can’t confess her love as she is concealing herself as a man, but once she is revealed to be a girl their love sparks. She is distracted by this general which gets in the way of her training and results in her almost being sent home. This romance she held is her next step in the hero’s journey as her love for this man results in her almost being kicked out, getting in the way of her initial journey and goal. The next step Mulan endures is her final battle. The final battle arises when Mulan is kicked out of the army. As she is on her way home accompanied by Mushu and Cri-Keen they spot the Huns, who she battled with an avalanche earlier on. A number of the Huns survived and came to destroy the Imperial City, also with the thought they were going to murder the emperor. Mulan ends up battling Shan Yu, the leader of the Huns. Using her quick-witted thinking by making Mushu get fireworks, and by stealing his sword she is able to battle Shan Yu on the roof and defeat him. This final battle ends the conflicts and results in her being allowed on her journey home.

The final step in the hero’s journey is the journey home. This last advance relates to the account of Mulan as she is heading home and experiences two obstacles, external and internal. The main obstacle is the internal conflict she holds. Mulan is entirely defenseless and dismal on her journey home. She is vulnerable as she believes her journey home might end up with her being put on trial for the crimes she committed. Mulan is also remorseful as she will be returning home to the family which once called her a disgrace. The external conflict she experiences is when she spots the Huns appearing out of the snow. Mulan races home in hopes of protecting her city and people, leading to the confirmation that the Huns were dead.

In conclusion, the film, Mulan, is a great story that exemplifies a hero’s journey. Mulan’s connection to these seven steps is important as it makes her a hero. Through all these aspects that are shown and these conflicts that arise, this hero is able to be seen as heroic and courageous. Mulan’s story shows the hero journey she embarked on which makes her the heroic character she is seen as today.

Sofia Kalaitzis – Author