Mushu is a red dragon, and the main deuteragonist from both Disney's 1998 feature film Mulan and the protagonist of its sequel. He is the titular character's closest companion throughout the Mulan series, acting as Mulan's guardian and protector. He is voiced by Eddie Murphy in his first appearance and Mark Moseley afterwards.
Mushu was once a guardian spirit of Mulan's family, but he had been demoted to the humiliating position of an incense burner and gong-ringer for the deceased Fa ancestors ever since he failed to protect a family member, a soldier named Fa Deng, resulting in the soldier's demise by decapitation (he's seen carrying his own head as a spirit).
In contrast to Mulan, Mushu is in most situations more comical, overconfident, funny and impulsive. He strives to be one of the family guardians again and selfishly decides to convince Mulan to join the army to turn her into a war hero, believing this will get him back on the "top shelf." However, he comes to realize how selfish he has been, admitting to Mulan that he risked her life to further his own goals. He then intends to take her home to face the consequences of his actions, but when she insists on stopping the Huns, Mushu loyally follows her, showing that underneath, he has a good heart. Mushu is rather sensitive about his size.
At first, Mulan's companions were to be two reptilian creatures; the idea of the creatures being dragons had not been established. However, feeling that two sidekicks would overcrowd the story, the animators then decided on a two-headed dragon, though they were green and grotesque. After the animators decided on a single-headed dragon, they established Mushu's physical concept. For better use, the animators shrunk Mushu to a smaller size.
Around the time when the music of the film was to be created, the songwriters had written a piece for Mushu for him to sing to assure Mulan that he'll be there to help her. However, after Eddie Murphy came to voice the character, the character and his dynamic changed and the animators canceled the piece, although it was a favorite among the filmmakers.
Mushu is based on a traditional Eastern dragon, which is radically different from Western dragons. Unlike their Western counterparts, Eastern dragons could control many elements and did not require wings to fly, and were portrayed as benevolent creatures, oftentimes respected as gods. Mushu's element however (presumably to reassure the viewers that he is a dragon) is fire. However, even the Great Ancestor himself does not consider Mushu to be a "real" dragon - he is very small, about the size of a lizard, and his fire-breathing ability is less than impressive, making him more useful as an emergency firelighter rather than as a weapon. As a mythical creature, Mushu is very durable, to the point of being seemingly immortal. He endures being stomped on, explosions, and an avalanche in the first movie. He can also understand other animals, as seen when he converses with Cri-kee, Mulan's lucky cricket, and her horse Khan. At one point when he wants to disguise as a soldier riding a horse but cannot find a horse, he finds and persuades a panda bear.
Mushu also claims that he has the ability to see straight through Mulan's armor (and presumably other things), but this is a one-off joke that is never brought up again.
At the start of the film, Mushu does not make his official appearance until after Mulan runs away from home to serve in her elderly father Fa Zhou's place in a war against the deadly Hun army. Knowing that Mulan's exposure will lead to the disgrace of the Fa family, the spirits of the ancestors choose to send the Great Stone Dragon to simply bring her back safely. For the task of awakening him, they send Mushu, who is offended when he is not asked to find her himself. In the past, his actions in protecting the Fa family led to disaster.
After several unsuccessful attempts at waking the Dragon, he ends up accidentally destroying the dragon statue. Cri-kee suggests that Mushu bring Mulan back safe instead so that he won't be punished, but Mushu decides to make his own plan and sets out to make Mulan a war hero, selfishly endangering her life. He meets her in a bamboo thicket overlooking the army camp. He poses as her powerful guardian though she is mildly impressed because of his small stature.
They make their way for the camp where Mushu continuously gives Mulan (in the guise of Ping) advice on acting masculine. The advice eventually leads to a brawl which causes Mulan to become the most unpopular soldier at the camp. For the next couple of days, Mulan progresses along with the others in skills but the Emperor's adviser Chi-Fu feels the troops are still unqualified for the war. To keep his plan intact, Mushu creates a phony message alerting Captain Li Shang and the troops to head to the front immediately.
After a run in with the Huns, Mulan's secret is discovered and she is left on a mountain summit as punishment. Mushu then takes the time to reveal the real reason he decided to help Mulan on her mission, but apologizes and promises to stay by her side no matter what. Just then, Mulan spots Shan Yu, the leader of the Huns, making way for the city. Mulan, Mushu, Cri-Kee, and Khan makes way to the city to warn Shang. At the Emperor's palace, Mulan battles Shan Yu and comes up with a plan. She leads him onto the roof where Mushu fires a rocket at the villain. Shan Yu is then blasted to the fireworks tower and is killed in the explosion. Mulan is deemed China's bravest warrior and Mushu regains his job.
In the sequel, Mushu serves as both the protagonist and (semi) antagonist. When Mulan prepares to marry Li Shang, Mushu is at first overjoyed to the point of tears, going as far as planning the wedding himself. However, things change once the ancestors tell him that if Mulan marries Shang, his family's guardians will take over for her, thus making Mushu a homeless dragon. Desperate to keep his job, he continuously tries to break the two apart to keep his position.
After many failed attempts, he finally succeeds. However, Mushu begins to feel regret and eventually tells Mulan the truth. Aside from this, Mulan and Shang were meant to escort three princesses to a kingdom for an arranged marriage with a childish prince. The princesses fall in love with Yao, Ling, and Chein-Po with Mulan supporting it after Mushu's schemes. To prevent the princesses from marrying, Mulan agrees to marry the prince in their place.
To redeem himself, and rescue Mulan, Mushu poses himself as the worshipped Golden Dragon of Unity and forces the king to cancel the marriage, allowing Mulan and Shang to marry as planned. Back at home, Mushu prepares to leave his pedestal and return to gong duty, but Mulan and Shang arrive at the temple and merge the family temples, thus allowing Mushu to keep his job.
Mushu appears as a recurring guest in the animated series and is usually seen with Cri-Kee. Mushu is usually seen having a comical comment about a performance. In "House of Genius", Mushu showed his annoyance with Donald's voice, and after the staff was replaced with robotic counterparts, he claims the Robo-Donald to be much better than the real Donald. In "House of Scrooge", Scrooge McDuck showcased his number one dime to the guest, but Mushu was unimpressed and thought of it more as a bottle cap. In "Chip 'n' Dale", Mushu was the only guest to help Pete finally open his bag of nuts. In "Dining Goofy", Goofy mixed up Mushu's order and gave him ice water, resulting in Mushu losing his fire-breathing abilities, Later when the computers take over Goofy's waiting duties, he and Cri-Kee were served spicy Kung Pao chicken, which helped regained Mushu's fire-breathing abilities. In "Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation", he blames Dragon Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty for setting the place on fire.
Mark Moseley voiced Mushu in the series, and to date, in all other media.
In the ABC fantasy/drama, Mushu does not appear. However, the personality, costume design, and the red smoke power of The Dragon (portrayed by Tzi Ma) in Season 2, a Chinese Healer established in Hong Kong and killed by Tamara, is reminiscent of Mushu.
Video Game Appearances
Mushu plays a recurring role in the franchise serving a unique role as a summon in Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories, where he can appear to Sora by a card or gem and aid him in battle. His world does not appear in Kingdom Hearts, due to its destruction. Fortunately, after the conclusion of the game, his world is restored, and he returns to it. Mushu resumes the events of his world in Kingdom Hearts II continuing with Mulan on her journey, although not as a summon. However, he has a larger involvement in his world's storyline as a reprisal of his role from the film.
Mushu has a spell card known as "Mushu's Fiery Breath" in the attraction Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. On the Disney Fantasy show Wishes, Mushu is alluded at the end of Mulan's segment in the form of a Chinese "Dragon Dance" costume.
Drawn to Animation
Mushu appears in the Drawn to Animation attraction at Disney California Adventure theme park and Disney's Hollywood Studios. In the show, Mushu, along with a Cast Member, take the guests on the tour through Disney animation. During the course of the show, the animated background of Mushu is revealed. Mushu criticizes his former appearances and remembers his animators who he refers to as his friends.
Mushu appears in the floating bubble montage in Disney's Hollywood Studios' version of Fantasmic!.
Disney Stars 'n' Cars Parade
Mushu joins in the parade alongside Mulan at Disneyland Paris at Walt Disney Studios.
Mushu and Mulan appear in the China segment of It's A Small World. One can spot them in the kite flying area.
- Along with Mulan, Mushu is the most iconic and popular character from Mulan.
- In the Disney Princess franchise, Mushu is the only sidekick of a Disney Princess to have a more significant role than the love interest along with the Seven Dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Jaq and Gus in Cinderella.
- In deleted scenes, we see that Mushu is not only charismatic but has an amazing singing voice. He even had his own song named "Keep 'em Guessing."
- If "Keep 'em Guessing" wasn't deleted, Mushu would've been the second animal friend of a Disney Princess to have a song of his own (the first being Sebastian, the third being Louis).
- In deleted scenes, Mushu calls Mulan by various nicknames including "Miss," "Doll," "Babe," "Mademoiselle" and "Sweetcakes."
- In House of Mouse, we learn that his favorite foods are Kung Pao chicken and fresh roasted nuts. Drinking iced water prohibits his ability to breathe fire for a little while.
- Mushu bears a resemblance to Melty from Lilo & Stitch: The Series in both appearance and color. However, unlike Melty, Mushu lacks wings.
- Throughout the movie, Mushu refers to Khan as a "cow," and yet only once, after the Hun archers attack the cart carrying cannons with fire arrows and destroy it, Mushu says to Mulan, "Oh, sure. Save the horse."
- Mushu is one of the three characters to break the fourth wall, alongside Genie and Donald Duck. In Kingdom Hearts, Mushu pulls out a manga and realizes that he was cut from the first book, and in the film, when looking for Mulan during the avalanche sequence of the Tong Shao Pass, he sees some hair in the snow and, thinking it's Mulan, pulls out what is really a Hun and quickly puts him back under the snow, sheepishly saying "Nope!" to the audience.
- According to Disneystrology, Mushu's birthday would be November 27th.
Characters: Fa Mulan | Mushu | Cri-Kee | Li Shang | Yao, Ling and Chien Po | Chi-Fu | General Li | Shan Yu | Fa Zhou | Fa Li | Grandmother Fa | Fa Family Ancestors | The Matchmaker | The Emperor of China | Sha-Ron | Ting-Ting, Su and Mei | Khan | Little Brother | Hayabusa the Falcon | Elite Hun Soldiers | Hun Army