Mulan Video Shows Original 1991 Mushu Drawings by Disney Animator

Former Disney animator Tom Bancroft shares a video featuring a number of design sketches for Eddie’s Murphy’s Mushu from Mulan in 1998.

Former Disney animator Tom Bancroft shares video featuring a number of design sketches for 1998’s Eddie’s Murphy’s Mushu Mulane. Murphy voiced the little dragon and former guardian of the Fa family in the animated musical adventure film. Murphy starred alongside Ming-Na Wen, who provided the voice of the titular heroine.

Released in 1998, Mulane is inspired by the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan and follows Wen’s Mulan as she takes her father’s place in the Chinese army when he is conscripted. Disguising herself as a man to join the ranks of the Imperial Army in their fight against the invading Huns, Mulan is aided by the disgraced Mushu, who hopes to regain the praise of the Fa family ancestor spirits by guiding her in her quest. While 2020’s live action Mulane remake cut Mushu, the character was a key part of the original animated feature, both a source of comedy and companion to Mulan on her journey.


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With the film having recently passed the 24th anniversary of its release, one of the animators from the feature films gave fans a look at the evolution of Mushu’s design. In a video posted to his personal TikTok account to celebrate the milestone, Bancroft showcases a number of sketches of Mulaneproduction debuted in 1991. In the video, the character’s original designer shares a number of character sheets and sketches of Mushu created to see how the character’s expressions could work alongside Murphy’s performance. In some sheets, Bancroft notes that Mushu once had longer, more curved horns that were shortened to alleviate any animation issues that might arise. Alongside Mushu, Bancroft also shows a snippet of sketches of the dragon alongside Mulan and Cri-Kee (Frank Welker), as well as various sketches of Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) that had been stored next to the Mulane masterpieces.

Mulan 1998 Eddie Murphy as Mushu

Click here to see Bancroft’s original video on TikTok

Despite his absence, Mushu’s family guardian role remained a part of the remake, instead being filled by a phoenix that represents Liu Yifei’s Mulan ancestors. However, the director of the 2020 live-action remake, Niki Caro, denied that it was a direct update to the beloved dragon. Caro explained that the phoenix was decided to act as a guardian to tie in more with the film’s exploration of gender fluidity, with the mythical bird symbolizing femininity.

A classic released during the “disney Renaissance“period of the end of the 20th century, Mulane became beloved for its plot, character arcs, and memorable musical moments, standing out among Disney’s 1990s animated films. As such, Bancroft’s insight behind the design of one of his most memorable characters is a perfect way to celebrate the film’s anniversary. Not only does the video show the evolution of Mushu’s design, but it also confirms that Murphy’s character and casting were key considerations throughout the film’s development, proving why he is essential to the animated feature. beloved Disney.

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Source: Tom Bancroft/TikTok

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