Disney movies of the 1990s marked the so-called Disney Renaissance, ten years when Disney produced critically and commercially successful animated films. Mulan was one of them, and it introduced us to one of the best musical adaptations of the well-known story of all time. Disney female cartoon characters were always “controversial” for their depiction in the mainstream media, but Mulan was truly special. Disney decided to adapt a story of a legendary Chinese female warrior who impersonated a man to take her father’s place to serve her country.
Fa Mulan’s journey throughout the movie is astonishing and combined with the animation, scenery, and great songs, Mulan is one of the best-animated films Disney created. Her story starts with sacrificing herself to protect her ill father and family to meet many great characters along the way. Still, she suffers abuse and doubt about protecting her country from notorious Huns. We will include all Mulan movies that have been released to this day.
How many Mulan movies are out there?
When writing this article, three Mulan movies have been released today. The original animated movie simply called Mulan was released in 1998. The second movie was released in 2004 by the name of Mulan II, in direct-to-video form.
There has been another Mulan movie, this time a live-action adaptation of the original animated movie that was released in 2020. There have been rumors of more Mulan projects being developed, but we will leave that topic later.
What is the best way to watch Mulan movies?
The best way to watch the Mulan movie franchise is by release date. The second Mulan movie directly follows the original movie’s plot, and the live adaptation drew its source material from the original movie. The best way to watch Mulan films is to follow the release date of the movies.
Mulan movies in order (at glance)
As we already mentioned, there are three Mulan movies released today. The original animated film from 1998 kickstarted the franchise and provided us with a great story and characters that we remember today. The first Mulan is my favorite Disney movie, and I strongly believe I’m not the only one in that thinking.
This list is the watch order of the Mulan movie series at a glance:
- Mulan (1998)
- Mulan II (2004)
- Mulan (2020 film)
We will mention more details about each movie, without spoilers, and the success and press the films gained during their release. Moreover, we will mention the platforms and ways you can watch the Mulan movies if they are connected and potential future projects. If you are interested in this topic, stay with us until the end of the article.
Mulan movies in order (by release date)
1. Mulan (1998)
The original Mulan movie was released in 1998, and to this day, it is one of the most popular Disney animated movies of all time. Disney’s renaissance propelled many female characters from 1989 to 1999, but Fa Mulan stood out from the rest. Disney introduced Ariel, Esmeralda, Belle, and more during that period. The fans positively accepted them, and most importantly, little girls who finally saw a good female representation on the screen.
Fa Mulan came in 1998, and the movie creators saw an opportunity to introduce a character from another culture after the critical acclaim of Esmeralda and Pocahontas. The Disney creators decided to adapt the Chinese legend about a daughter stepping in for her ill father to serve her country in the war. Disney’s Fa Mulan was created, and she was an immediate fan favorite.
Synopsis: The story follows a young Chinese woman named Mulan whose family wants her to get married and settle; however, after a few accidents where she embarrasses herself, she is at odds with her father, Fa Zhou.
In the meantime, China is suffering from the invasion by notorious Huns, who are killing everything in front of them. Fa Zhou has been injured from the previous conflict, and Mulan seeing her father struggle but is still willing to go to war, prompts her to enroll in the military in his place of him. If she didn’t, he would never come back. In her journey, Mulan meets great characters and earns her respect for her bravery and the love she has for her family.
The animated film was directed by Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft and written by Rita Hsiao, Chris Sanders, Phillip LaZebnik, Raymond Singer, and Eugenia Bostwick-Singer. The cast included Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, Miguel Ferrer, and more.
The original Mulan movie gained massive success, both critically and commercially. Mulan was included in the Disney Princess cast and is remembered as one of the coolest female Disney characters ever.
2. Mulan II (2004)
After the success of the Mulan original movie, Disney decided that the sequel would suffice, and started developing two more sequels to Disney’s 1998 successful movie. We will discuss the first sequel, Mulan II, which was released in the direct-to-video format, and most of the cast
returned to reprise their roles.
The director was Darrell Rooney and Lynne Southerland, and the writers this time were Michael Lucker, Chris Parker, and Roger S.H. Schulman.
Synopsis: This time, the story follows Mulan and her fiance General Li-Shang on a special mission – they need to escort the Emperor’s three daughters to meet their soon-to-be finances. The movie deals with loyalty, love, arranged marriages, and trust.
The critics and fans thoroughly disliked the movie because it was not anything like its predecessor – memorable, cool, great plot, and a movie that deals with far deeper themes than marriages. Mulan’s character was different from the rest of the princesses for a reason, and this movie was anything but what we know about Mulan.
The movie is watchable and a good way to waste away a few hours of your day.
3. Mulan (2020 film)
Finally, we have a live adaptation of the original Disney animated featured film from 1998. The live-action movie was in the works since 2010 but was in development hell for years.
Finally, Disney managed to finish the movie by 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the theatrical release of Mulan by one year. Disney decided to release the movie on their streaming platforms and later in the theaters.
Synopsis: The story follows a young woman Mulan, who disappoints her parents with her reluctance to settle with a family and husband. After her father gets enlisted in the military, she realizes that her father won’t come back from the war because of his previous injury. She decides to take his place and goes on a journey to fight for her country and save her family.
The movie’s director was Niki Caro, and the writers were Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin. The cast consisted of Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, and more.
The movie received critical acclaim for its action sequences, performances, and costumes but was criticized for its screenplay and editing. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie earned only $70 million at the box office, with a $200 million budget.
Fans were not that happy and called the movie hollow and inaccurate.
Where to watch Mulan movies?
All the Mulan movies on this list are available on Disney+ streaming platforms.
Do you need to watch the Mulan movies in order?
To understand the plot and the characters of the Mulan franchise, one must watch at least the first two movies in order since the live-action adaptation is “only” adapted from the original Mulan movie from 1998.
Of course, you could watch the movies separately the way you want, but the guaranteed full experience is by watching the movies by release date, and if you watch the original movie first, trust me, you will want more Mulan content.
Are Mulan movies connected?
All movies are connected but in different ways. The first two movies are connected by the plot and chronological happenings of the animated movies. Still, the 2020 live-adaptation movie is a separate entity adapted from the original Mulan movie.
Will there be more Mulan movies/projects in the future?
Even though the fans of the original Disney animated film did not like the live-action movie from 2020, Disney announced the same year they were already developing the Mulan live-action sequel.
The Disney studio already announced the return of the 2020 Mulan movie producers, with Chris Bender, Jason T. Reed, and Jake Weiner already working on the movie, so do not be surprised if we get more information about the Mulan sequel in the coming months.