The Next Mulan? These 5 Ancient Chinese Women Could Become Disney’s New Heroines

Braving invaders and battling social injustice, these historical Chinese women are revered and impressive enough to be box office smashes.

Mulan (1998). Photo: Douban

Anticipation continues to build for the live-action remake of Mulan, which will be coming to theatres in March 2020. And although Hua Mulan’s warrior heroics have earned her a deserved place on the big screen, she isn’t the only ancient Chinese heroine who inspires us. These five tough ladies also deserve their moment in the spotlight as a Disney star:

Mu Guiying

A 19th century mural painting at the Long Corridor of Summer Palace, Beijing, depicting Mu Guiying with a medicine man. Photo: Wikipedia

What’s her story? Known for her extraordinary martial arts skills, this Northern Song dynasty warrior has been featured in the opera and novel Legend of Warriors of Yang Family. During her life, there was constant warfare at the Chinese border. After her soldier husband died in battle, Mu Guiying held back her tears and led the other widows of the kingdom in a war against the border attackers.

Why we love her: She dedicated herself to inspiring other women. A film adaptation of her life would be an inspirational tale of female power, even in the face of grief.

Fan Lihua

TVB actress Jessica Hsuan portrays Fan Lihua in the TV series Lady Fan. Photo: TVB

What’s her story? When Fan Lihua married a soldier from another kingdom, she had to put up with plenty of prejudice and disrespect because the kingdom she came from was less respected. Could her strong personality help her win the affections of her husband’s family and unite the two kingdoms in peace?

Why we love her: Raised by her father and brothers, Fan Lihua developed an outspoken, brutally honest personality that helped her stand out during the patriarchal Tang dynasty. This makes her the perfect type of protagonist for a film about a strong woman!

Tang Sai’er

Posted by Asian History on Thursday, July 14, 2016

What’s her story? We love a female outlaw! And that’s just what this Ming dynasty warrior is all about. Tang Sai’er always fought for the little guy, even when doing so angered the royals. When she saw peasants being forced into slavery, this strong woman led an uprising against the Ming government. Her magnetic personality helped her recruit more than 10,000 soldiers to her cause.

Why we love her: For audiences who love rooting for the underdog, they’re sure to find inspiration in Tang Sai’er’s many brave escapades.

Liang Hongyu

What’s her story? The coolest thing about Liang Hongyu? She was skilled at just about everything! When she wasn’t using her superhero-level martial arts expertise to take on enemies, she was showing off her impressive singing, dancing and drumming skills. Although she was adept at so many things, she ultimately ended up being known as an especially talented soldier.

Why we love her: She broke down barriers! In fact, she became the first woman in Chinese history to receive a government salary for her work on behalf of national security.

Fu Hao

Fu Hao was so revered for leading battles and religious ceremonies they have a statue of her at Yinxu. Photo: Wikipedia

What’s her story? Fu Hao’s legend extends back to the Shang dynasty and most of what we know about her is written on ancient oracle bones that were found in her tomb. Much like Liang Hongyu, Fu Hao is a woman of many talents and led both battles and religious ceremonies.

Why we love her: She never took a back seat, even in a world run by men. In fact, she made such a name for herself that she was ultimately buried in a tomb separate from her husband, which was a sign of just how well-regarded she was.

Move over, Mulan! It’s clear there were quite a few ancient Chinese women who knew a thing or two about being brave in a man’s world. Which one do you want Disney to put on the big screen?


– This article originally appeared on South China Morning Post – Style Magazine.