I used to think Mulan was a great girl power movie about challenging social conventions and rising to any challenge. It’s not.
Mulan is based on an actual ancient Chinese fable. In the original, Mulan is the daughter of a general and, despite it being against a woman’s place in society at the time, he taught her to ride and wield a sword. Just like in the film, when one man from each family was drafted, her father volunteered despite his age. Mulan stole her father’s armour, dressed as a man and went to war in his place.
But that’s where the similarities end.
There is no love story in the classic version. Mulan returns home and bestows the armour on her younger brother, now old enough to wear it. She dresses in the clothes of a woman and wears make-up. Eventually her friends from the army return to visit and are shocked by the dazzling woman before them, and her story of the young warrior who became a lady spread across the land.