Shortly after his initial introduction in the film, Shang is appointed as an army captain by his father General Li. The appointment comes at the protest of Chi-Fu, who claims that Shang is too young for such responsibility. General Li defends the choice, noting Shang's numerous accomplishments as well as his impressive military lineage. As a slight compromise, Shang is ordered to train the new recruits, and then, pending Chi-Fu's approval, joins the main army in the Tung Shao Pass. Shang is initially excited at the prospect but is slightly disappointed when the new recruits are shown to be lacking in skill. After hard training, however, he is able to turn them into respectable soldiers. Shang then goes to Chi-Fu, who refuses to grant his approval, despite Shang's protests. Chi-Fu disparages both the soldiers and Shang, hinting that he believes Shang only became captain because of his father. Chu-Fu then threatens that Shang's troops will never see battle after the General reads his report.
A letter later comes for Shang (supposedly from the General, but actually faked by Mushu) asking him to take his troops to the front. Coming to a village in the mountain pass, they discover that the village had been razed by the Huns. While searching for potential survivors, Shang learns that the entire army (including his father) perished in the battle. Shang takes a moment to mourn, making a small shrine to his father, before taking his soldiers in pursuit of the Huns, who are headed toward the Imperial City. They soon meet the Hun army after Mushu accidentally fired a cannon causing his position given away to Shan Yu and the Huns, only to learn that they are hopelessly outnumbered. Shang prepares for a last stand. However, a soldier named Ping (who is actually Mulan in disguise) is able to stop the Hun army by causing an avalanche. Shang is caught in the avalanche but is saved by Ping.
In the aftermath, Shang thanks Ping and accepts "him" as a trusted friend. However, while Ping is receiving treatment, it is discovered that "he" is a woman named Mulan. Though the law states that a woman who is discovered in the army is to be killed, Shang spares her due to the debt he owes her for saving him. Shang then leaves Mulan and leads his army to the Imperial City. Chi-Fu attempts to beg him to execute her but he angrily refuses as she had saved his life; he repays his debt of gratitude.
At the Imperial City, Shang and his troops are to be honored for defeating the Huns. However, he is seen to be downcast due to Mulan. Mulan suddenly arrives in the city, claiming that the Huns are alive. Shang refuses to believe her, as she had lied about her identity, but her claims are soon found to be true. As Shang is being honored by the Emperor, Shan Yu and several Huns kidnap the Emperor and lock themselves in the palace. Shang attempts to lead a rescue mission but initially fails. Mulan takes charge and along with Yao, Ling and Chien Po are able to climb up pillars onto an upper floor. While Mulan and the trio distract the Hun guards, Shang rushes to a balcony and fights Shan Yu. The trio is able to take the Emperor to safety, but when Shang is knocked out, Mulan chooses to forgo her own safety to assist him.
After Shan Yu is killed, Shang is seen running outside of the palace, where Mulan falls on him. He later defends Mulan as a hero when Chi Fu begins scolding her. Shang is among the first to bow to Mulan when the Emperor honors her as the hero of China. As Mulan prepares to go home, Shang attempts to tell her how he feels but ends up stuttering out a reference to her fighting talents. Shang is shown to be disappointed in his failure, but after being counseled by the Emperor, he chooses to travel to Mulan's home to see her. He speaks to her, somewhat nervously, under the guise that he was returning a helmet she had left. As Mulan's father, Fa Zhou realizes what Shang is trying to say, he motions to Mulan, who then invites Shang to dinner that night, which he greatly accepts.
Shang is serious, thoughtful, sometimes over-analytical, and short-tempered, but ultimately a good leader. He is fair and loyal. In non-military situations, he can be socially awkward.
- Mulan 2
- Li Shang is possibly ambidextrous. He tends to do a lot with his left hand as well as his right.
- His name in the Mandarin version of Mulan is 'Xiang' (to soar), which is pronounced similarly to "Shang."
- He appears to be a speed reader in Mulan 2.
- Even though he appears to be brave in his film debut, in Mulan 2, it's revealed that he is afraid of bears and other forest animals.
- He was voiced by BD Wong, who is also known for
- Dr.Henry Wu (Jurrasic Park Franchise)
- Dr.Hugo Strange (Gotham:Wrath of The Villains)