HomeMF OriginalsWas Xianniang "Gong Li" in Mulan a villain?

Was Xianniang “Gong Li” in Mulan a villain?

Disney’s Mulan just went on air on September 4 on “Disney+ this summer. With ongoing #BanMulan protests in the country, Mulan is still building up its fan base. Inspired from “The Ballad of Mulan” Chinese folklore, it tells an inspiring tale of a young girl ” Hua Mulan” who disguised herself as a male soldier when the King issues a decree for each resident to volunteer one man from the family to serve army against the Northern Invaders lead by “Bori Khan“. 

What comes different from the original tale was the addition of witchcraft and its powers in the frame of Xianniang, She’s a powerhouse of strength, shifting shapes and turning into an Eagle. She’s a warrior who supported Bori Khan as to accept her not as a Witch but a Warrior that was too uncommon to be heard in their culture. 

But wait, we knew she’s been introduced as a Villain, but was Xianniang “Gong li” in Mulan a Villain actually? Let’s find out!

Who is Xianniang?


The first and foremost question that arises is Who is Xianniang? Initially, it was she who attacked the soldiers on the Silk Road, which made the King issue the decree that one of the family residents must volunteer to serve the army to fight against the Northern Invaders. An epitome of strength, magic, and shape-shifting she was a true warrior but that was something not accepted in their culture and the whole life she’s lead in exile. 

Now she teamed up with Bori Khan, or rather she served Bori Khan to conquer the Imperial City in return getting accepted to find her true place. She was surely a huge threat to anybody she disliked and that’s the reason that leads Mulan to disguise as a man to serve the country, the decree of course!

Was Xianniang “Gong li” in Mulan a Villain?

Probably not, she was just in her journey to find her place, to be accepted by the king and people, not like a Witch but a Warrior, a soldier. Sadly it was not how she was treated. She’s been away from her values and family and sent in exile. 

As an act of revenge, she serves Bori Khan as he promised to give her the respect and place she truly deserved. Hence she follows the instructions of Bori Khan and destroys the Imperial city and follows to do that until the end when she decides to help Mulan and guides her the way to the place where King was captured by Bori Khan. Was she a villain then, not!

How she helped Mulan to save the imperial city?


As a woman with powers and skills, she always wanted to be accepted and respected by the countrymen and the King but these powers didn’t help her find her true place. She’s longed for a life where she gets want she’s meant to be. But when she met Mulan for the first time, she said “They were alike” because until then, she called Mulan a liar.

Although she was happy to see another girl receiving the respect she truly deserved, she helped Mulan to guide her through the route of where her King was imprisoned. When Bori Khan attempted to kill Mulan, she sacrificed herself so that Mulan can find the place she truly deserved and meant for. 

Xianniang, was surely one of the strong characters in Disney Mulan and Gong Li made quite a justice to the character. The actions, the grace she spoke with, and her costumes, everything seemed to be in sync and we love her that. What did you like about Xianniang? Was she a villain in real? Let us know which character did you liked the most.


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