Po (Movie) Character in “Kung Fu Panda”

This post includes a character analysis of Po, the protagonist of the 2008 film “Kung Fu Panda”.

Directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, the 2008 animated martial arts comedy stars Jack Black as Po. Beware of spoilers.

Kung Fu Panda

In “Kung Fu Panda”, Po is a huge panda who resides in the Valley of Peace. He and his adoptive father, a goose named Mr. Ping, own a tiny shop that sells noodles. The panda has always wanted to be a kung fu master, but he lacks both talent and skill.

One day, Po gets chosen as “the Dragon Warrior”. In theory, the prophesied hero is supposed to save the town from an evil snow leopard (Tai Lung). The latter was once a student of Master Shifu, the leader of the “Furious Five” (a group of kung fu masters).

In the beginning, both Shifu and the “Furious Five” are sceptical and hostile towards Po. But gradually, they warmed to him as the panda showed them determination and courage.

Po also learns that there are no hidden powers in the Dragon Scroll. It’s only a blank piece of paper reflecting his own image. In the end, the panda defeats Tai Lung using the Wuxi Finger Hold, a secret technique that only he can perform.

Note: For those who are interested, here is another article exploring some valuable life lessons in Kung Fu Panda.

Po Character Analysis in “Kung Fu Panda”

Kung Fu Panda presents Po as a clumsy and overweight panda who works at his father’s noodle shop. However, there is more to the panda than meets the eye. When Oogway chose him as the Dragon Warrior, it was no accident. Po’s unique physique proved incredibly useful when fighting someone like Tai Lung.

In terms of personality, Po is kind, brave, and humorous. He is very passionate about food and kung fu. Also, Po is humble and respectful despite possessing incredible powers. The panda is a knowledge seeker, he always wants to learn new things and improve his skills. He never gives up, even when he faces great adversity.

Po’s Character Evolution

In the beginning, Po lacked the self-confidence to chase after his dream of becoming a kung fu master. Not only that, but the panda also felt out of place in society and struggled with his identity. Later on, thanks to Oogway’s encouragement and Shifu’s training, he starts carving out his own place in the kung fu world. Also, Po learns that there is no secret in the Dragon Scroll. From the reflective piece of paper, the panda realizes that the key to limitless power is to believe in oneself.

Po and Shifu (Relationship)

In the beginning, Shifu was reluctant to train Po. The master saw him as an awkward and lazy panda, someone who did not belong in the Jade Palace. Therefore, Shifu tried to discourage and humiliate Po, hoping that the panda would eventually quit. However, thanks to Oogway’s wisdom and kind words, the panda decides to persevere and fight adversity. His newfound attitude impresses Shifu, who gradually changes his mind about Po.

As a result, Shifu changes his teaching methods to adapt to Po’s unconventional way of learning kung fu. After defeating Tai Lung, Po earns Shifu’s trust and respect. Not only that, but the panda also helps his master heal from his past emotional wounds, making him a more warm person towards his students.

How did Po defeat Tai Lung?

There are many reasons that could potentially explain why Po was able to defeat Tai Lung, Shifu’s former protégé. Po’s unique physique, lively personality, and humbleness played a key role in defeating the powerful snow leopard, Tai Lung.

First of all, Po’s unconventional physique helped him dodge some of Tai Lung’s most deadly moves. The panda’s round shape and fluffy body helped minimize the impact of Tai Lung’s attacks, making him almost impossible to “break”. In addition, Po was immune to Tai Lung’s nerve strikes, which could paralyze any other kung fu master. His body is so soft and fluffy that Tai Lung’s claws could not reach his pressure points.

Second, Po’s lively personality also allowed him to develop a very innovative kung fu style. Unlike the Furious Five, the panda’s kung fu is much more “playful”. Po is a master of improvisation who likes to use his surroundings to his advantage. His unpredictable moves are perfect when facing someone like Tai Lung, who had traditional kung fu training.

Third, Po is a powerful fighter, but he is still humble. Unlike Tai Lung, the panda respects his masters and is eager to learn. Most importantly, Po never underestimates his opponents. That same mindset helped him develop an important technique that would later help him defeat Tai Lung for good: the Wuxi Finger.

Final Thoughts

Po is a great example of how heroes come in many forms. On the surface, the panda looks awkward and non-threatening, but great power lies inside of him. In addition, his most lovable trait is his sense of humour. During difficult times, Po’s ability to laugh off pain and adversity gave him the strength to keep going.

In addition, “Kung Fu Panda” shows that individuals are not born heroes, they are made. In Po’s case, the title of “Dragon Warrior” didn’t grant him any powers. However, his persistence in getting better and determination to fight adversity did.

After defeating Tai Lung, the panda earned the respect of his peers “The Furious Five”, Shifu, and proved that Oogway was right all along. The panda has indeed come a long way. Po went from working in his father’s noodle shop to saving the Valley of Peace from an intimidating and angry snow leopard.

Overall, Po is a very inspiring and likeable character. His triumph over the “bad guy” reminds the audience that the sky is the limit for those who are willing to put in the effort and believe in themselves. Also, the panda proves that being different is actually a good thing. In the end, Po’s uniqueness actually became his biggest strength.