Shang is the son of General Li, the head of the Chinese army. During his appointment in the first movie, he is a highly capable leader with a dedication to his cause. It is mentioned that he was first in his class in regards to military affairs and was knowledgeable in training tactics. However, he has tendencies to be too "by-the-book" and to put his duty above his feelings, in contrast to Mulan. He is often disparagingly called a 'Pretty Boy' due to his dashing good looks and strong physique. He is reserved and thoughtful, a more logical and calming influence to Mulan's adventurous personality. Also, despite his skill at military affairs, he seems to be somewhat lacking in social skills, as he has trouble telling Mulan about his romantic feelings for her.
Shortly after his initial introduction in the film, Shang is appointed as an army captain by his father General Li. The appointment comes at the protest of Chi-Fu, who claims that Shang is too young for such responsibility. General Li defends the choice, noting Shang's numerous accomplishments as well as his impressive military lineage. As a slight compromise, Shang is ordered to train the new recruits, and then, pending Chi-Fu's approval, joins the main army in the Tung Shao Pass. Shang is initially excited at the prospect, but is slightly disappointed when the new recruits are shown to be lacking in skill. After hard training, however, he is able to turn them into respectable soldiers. Shang then goes to Chi-Fu, who refuses to grant his approval, despite Shang's protests. Chi-Fu disparages both the soldiers and Shang, hinting that he believes Shang only became captain because of his father. Chu-Fu then threatens that Shang's troops will never see battle after the General reads his report.
A letter later comes for Shang (supposedly from the General, but actually faked by Mushu) asking him to take his troops to the front. Coming to a village in the mountain pass, they discover that the village had been razed by the Huns. While searching for potential survivors, Shang learns that the entire army (including his father) perished in the battle. Shang takes a moment to mourn, making a small shrine to his father, before taking his soldiers in pursuit of the Huns, who are headed toward the Imperial City. They soon meet the Hun army after Mushu accidentally fired a cannon causing his position given away to Shan Yu and the Huns, only to learn that they are hopelessly outnumbered. Shang prepares for a last stand. However, a soldier named Ping (who is actually Mulan in disguise) is able to stop the Hun army by causing an avalanche. Shang is caught in the avalanche, but is saved by Ping.
In the aftermath, Shang thanks Ping and accepts "him" as a trusted friend. However, while Ping is receiving treatment, it is discovered that "he" is a woman named Mulan. Though the law states that a woman who is discovered in the army is to be killed, Shang spares her due to the debt he owes her for saving him. Shang then leaves Mulan and leads his army to the Imperial City. Chi-Fu attempts to begs him to execute her but he angrily refuses as she had saved his life; he repays his debt of gratitude.
At the Imperial City, Shang and his troops are to be honored for defeating the Huns. However, he is seen to be downcast due to Mulan. Mulan suddenly arrives in the city, claiming that the Huns are alive. Shang refuses to believe her, as she had lied about her identity, but her claims are soon found to be true. As Shang is being honored by the Emperor, Shan Yu and several Huns kidnap the Emperor and lock themselves in the palace. Shang attempts to lead a rescue mission, but initially fails. Mulan takes charge and along with Yao, Ling and Chien Po are able to climb up pillars onto an upper floor. While Mulan and the trio distract the Hun guards, Shang rushes to a balcony and fights Shan Yu. The trio are able to take the Emperor to safety, but when Shang is knocked out, Mulan chooses to forgo her own safety to assist him.
After Shan Yu is killed, Shang is seen running outside of the palace, where Mulan falls on him. He later defends Mulan as a hero when Chi Fu begins scolding her. Shang is among the first to bow to Mulan when the Emperor honors her as the hero of China. As Mulan prepares to go home, Shang attempts to tell her how her feels, but ends up stuttering out a reference to her fighting talents. Shang is shown to be disappointed in his failure, but after being counseled by the Emperor, he chooses to travel to Mulan's home to see her. He speaks to her, somewhat nervously, under the guise that he was returning a helmet she had left. As Mulan's father, Fa Zhou realizes what Shang is trying to say, he motions to Mulan, who then invites Shang to dinner that night, which he greatly accepts.
One month later, in Mulan II, the film begins with him proposing to Mulan, to which she gladly agrees. During a meeting with the Emperor, he is promoted from captain to general. Shang and Mulan are directed by the emperor to escort his three daughters to a neighboring kingdom in hopes that an arranged marriage between them and the three princes of the opposing nation will form an alliance against the Mongols, who are threatening to attack the northern border of China.
He and Mulan go through much conflict around their romantic relationship, which is partly instigated by Mushu. Midway through the film, he and the group are attacked. Shang and Mulan are left dangling from a bridge. Since the bridge cannot support both of them, Shang lets go to save Mulan. When the Princesses reveal that they don't want to go through with the marriage, Mulan offers to take their place, as Shang is presumably dead. At the end of the film, when it is revealed he is alive (with help from his horse), Mushu saves the day by pretending to be the Golden Dragon of Unity and freeing the princesses from their vows. Mushu (still posing as the Golden Dragon) marries Shang and Mulan, using that as the marriage to bring peace and harmony between the two neighboring kingdoms of China. Mulan later tells Shang about Mushu; Shang makes the choice to combine both families' temples so that Mushu can remain as Mulan's guardian and most trusted confidant.
Shang appears briefly in the episode "Max's New Car".
He doesn't appear in the first two games, but makes an appearance in the third game as captain of the Chinese army to protect the The Land of Dragons from falling into the hands of Shan Yu.
He initially disliked Ping (who is Mulan in disguise) because of "his" vast shortcomings in terms of fighting, but learned to trust "him" after "he" caused a mountain of snow to fall down on Shan Yu and his army. However, Mushu accidentally lets the truth slip and Shang realizes that Ping is actually Fa Mulan. Though she was supposed to be sentenced to death, he spared her life.
When it turns out that Shan Yu is alive and heading for the Imperial City, Mulan tries to warn him, but he refuses to listen until he sees the truth for himself. He then rescues The Emperor and thanks Mulan, Sora, Donald and Goofy for their help in protecting their country and ultimately defeating Shan Yu.
Upon Sora's second visit, a black hooded man (who is actually Riku) had visited the Emperor and easily defeated the Captain. After Mulan, Sora, Donald and Goofy defeat the Storm Rider Heartless, Mulan becomes Shang's partner in protecting their world and their Emperor, much to their pleasure.
During the end credits, Shang is seen sharing a romantic moment with Mulan, until the three soldiers, Chien Po, Yao, and Ling reveal that they are spying on them and ruin it.
Shang makes very rare appearances in the Disney theme parks, but he does appear frequently with Mulan in the Disney on Ice live shows.
- Li Shang's act of turning the entire camp against Mulan is actually a common technique used by sergeants during training - trouble-makers will not be singled out by the sergeant, which would result in earning them sympathy, but instead earn all recruits a punishment.
- Li's act of singling Yao out with the retrieval of the arrow is also a technique used in training - smart-mouths will be singled out for humiliation, not only to show that they are wrong, but also to show they are a risky person to agree with or be friends with.
- Li Shang is the second to have his upper torso be exposed after Aladdin, but the first to entirely remove his upper clothing by taking them off.
- Li Shang is the first to not share a romantic kiss with the heroine, not counting the sequel.
- Li Shang is the third Disney prince to wield a sword after Aladdin and Prince Phillip.
- Li Shang is the first to show gratitude and give respect to the heroine's attributes.
- Li is the second Prince to own his horse after Prince Phillip and Samson. Flynn Rider even stole Maximus.
- Li Shang is the third Disney Prince to wear a red cape.
- Li Shang is the third not to be of royal descent, after Aladdin and John Smith.
- He is also the second member to be technically not a prince as he did not marry a princess or was born one, The other is John Smith who never married Pocahontas. Ironically, he did marry one of the Disney Princesses that's also not technically a princess, Mulan.
- Li Shang is also the third Disney prince to marry someone who is not a princess, the first being Prince Charming, the second being The Beast and the fourth being Naveen.
- Li Shang is possibly ambidextrous. He tends to do a lot with left hand as well as right.
- Li Shang doesn't have a belly button in the first movie but a muscle definition. In the second movie one might appear to be there but it might just be a line.
- Every time a hat (or helmet) is shown with Li Shang it is used negatively.
- His name in the Mandarian version is Xiang (to soar) which is pronounced still as Shang but the "ang" sounds like "ong" in direct Chinese. General Li pronounces it like this once.
- Has oddly small feet for his size in the first movie. In the second movie they appear bigger until the end.
- According to the audio commentary on the special edition Mulan DVD, Li Shang was considered a dorky guy despite being physically fit due to his inability to talk to Mulan. An example of this would be after she defeats Shan Yu he says "You fight good" in a nervous way.
- Although he is great at kung-fu, he is a clumsy dancer as seen in a comic, and appears to be somewhat clumsy in the second movie, much like Mulan herself.
- He appears to be a speed reader in the second movie.
- If he's "number one in his class" it's possible he has the "Jinshi" title.
- Although he seems to never be in pain when things happen in fights (such as the arrow stabbing him), he wiggles around highly disturbed by worms in his shirt.
- Li Shang is the second male character to have his hair up, after The Beast in his human form.
- His half of the yin and yang necklace is the yin side, associated with femininity.