For 22 years, Mulan has been my favorite Disney princess. She’s a badass who risked her life to protect her family and ended up saving all of China despite the odds fighting against her. Her strength, courage, and determination have been a source of inspiration for me since I was a toddler, and I still love watching her take on the Huns on the occasional Saturday afternoon. With the release of the 2020 live-action Mulan reboot on Sept. 4, I couldn’t help but revisit the original film and revel in the beauty of this animated Disney classic for the hundredth time. But, even two decades later, there are still questions about this amazing movie that pop into my head every now and then. Namely, why couldn’t Mushu awaken the Great Stone Dragon at the beginning of the film? After a little bit of digging, I think I’ve found the answer.
Once Mulan decides to take her father’s place in the war and heads off for battle, the spirits of her ancestors wake up. These ancestors awaken Mushu — a small dragon and a former guardian of the Fa family — who they then instruct to summon the Great Stone Dragon to help Mulan on her quest. Despite being insulted that he wasn’t chosen to accompany Mulan on her journey, Mushu bangs a small gong and shouts in an attempt to awaken the Great Stone Dragon’s spirit, which is located inside a large stone statue outside of the family’s temple. After several attempts, Mushu ends up breaking the statue and worries that he’s destroyed the Great Stone Dragon’s spirit. This is why he sets off to join Mulan in place of the Great Stone Dragon at the start of the film.
Like many other viewers, I always assumed this was just a necessary plot point to get Mushu in on the action. But then I began to wonder why the family’s most powerful guardian couldn’t help Mulan on a journey that the rest of the ancestors deemed too dangerous to embark on alone. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thought this. In a post shared to Tumblr in 2014, deactivated user sansaspark theorized that the Great Stone Dragon didn’t remain dormant at all; in fact, it was already awake because Mulan is the Great Stone Dragon! After appreciating that my mind had been blown for five full minutes, I came to realize that there are a lot of other clues throughout the film that point to this theory making a lot of sense.
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