'Once Upon a Time:' Mulan Finally Gets an LGBTQ Storyline on ABC's Drama Series

There’s no Shang in the live-action Mulan and there’s also no big romance between Mulan and Chen Honghui. On another Disney production, though, this fierce warrior shares her feelings for another Disney princess. 

Here’s what we know about Mulan from Once Upon a Time.

Mulan, technically, doesn’t have a love interest in Disney’s live-action adaptation of her story

A few years after the release of the animated Mulan, this character appeared in a few other Disney productions. That includes the ABC drama series, Once Upon a Time, and the live-action adaptation of her story, released on Disney+ in 2020. 

There were a few changes made by Disney when it came to the live-action adaptation of Mulan. One of the biggest differences was that instead of General Shang as a love interest, Mulan had a short-lived fling with another soldier, Chen Honghui, that doesn’t end in a dinner invite from Mulan’s grandmother.

Why is Shang excluded from the live-action adaptation?

Many Disney fans considered this a missed opportunity for LGBTQ representation in the live-action adaptation since some consider Shang to be bisexual, according to Insider. (He does fall for Ping long before he knows he’s actually Mulan.) However, the reason for excluding Shang didn’t have to do with his sexuality. 

“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable, and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” producer Jason Reed said during an interview with Collider.

The choice for Mulan to end up without a match but with her honor is promising, although some fans wished more for this character. In one ABC production, Once Upon a Time, this character has feelings for another princess, technically making her one of the first openly gay princesses of the drama series.

Mulan is an openly LGBTQ character in ‘Once Upon a Time’

In the season 5 episode “Ruby Slippers,” Mulan helped Ruby (Meghan Ory) find her wolf pack in Oz. They stumped upon Dorothy (Teri Reeves) and there’s a spark between Ruby and this new friend. Ruby confides in Mulan, telling her she’s never felt this way before. 

“Don’t make the same mistake that I did,” Mulan advised her friend. “Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone how you feel.”

By the end of this episode, Ruby and Dorothy are the characters with the first openly-gay relationship on the series, even sharing a kiss.

“We wanted to tell it no differently than we would with Robin and Regina or Snow and Charming. We just wanted to tell a love story,” co-creator Eddy Kitsis said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “For us, it’s a love story like any other and it’s something we’re excited about.”

ABC’s Once Upon a Time and the original animated version of Mulan are both available for streaming on Disney+. The live-action adaptation is available with “Premier Access,” for an additional fee. 

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