|“||Shen: Ah, there you are, Soothsayer. It seems your fortune-telling skills are not as good as you thought.
Soothsayer: We shall see, Shen.
|—Upon meeting each other for the first time in years, Kung Fu Panda 2|
Blessed with the gift of second sight, she had served as advisor to the Peacocks her entire life. But after making a dark prediction about their son that resulted in the destruction of a village and nearly an entire species, she was burdened with guilt even after the young prince had been banished for his actions. It wasn't until twenty years later that her prediction came true, and she was able to help the "warrior of black and white" that she had prophesied would defeat Shen.
The Soothsayer's precise origins are unknown. What is known is that she had served as adviser to the royal Peacock family for the majority of her life, suggesting that she might have been born with the gift. Her elderly state in the film also indicates that she has lived a long time, although her exact age is currently unknown.
Twenty years prior to the film's events (as narrated in the film prologue), the Soothsayer was one day called upon the Peacocks, rulers of Gongmen City, to reveal their son's fortune in light of his disturbing ambition regarding a lethal potential in his family's celebrated invention of fireworks. Using her soothsaying magic, the Soothsayer foretold that "if [he] continued down this dark path, he would be defeated by a warrior of black and white." This prophecy led to a horrific chain of events when the young Lord Shen had overheard the Soothsayer's fortune-telling. To the horror of the Soothsayer and Shen's parents, he assumed this warrior of black and white referred to a panda, and immediately, the young prince led his army of wolves to exterminate all the pandas in a nearby farming village. Such a heinous, unspeakable crime was punishable, according to Shen's father, by lifelong banishment from Gongmen. The Soothsayer was not present for Shen's banishment, but was still aware of it. The destruction of the panda village and near-extermination of the species weighed heavily on the old Soothsayer, who knew that it was her prophecy that led Shen to commit the act.
For years since then, the Soothsayer had lived with the burden of her guilt, tempered by a finely-honed fatalistic sense of humor that comforted her as she awaited the events she foretold—events that she hoped would redeem both Shen and herself. She stayed with the Peacocks until the city's throne was turned over to the stewardship of the Kung Fu Council, to whom she continued to aid through her wisdom and soothsaying.
When Shen finally returned to take control of Gongmen City, he greeted the Soothsayer and commented that her fortune-telling skills were not as good as she thought. After this tense exchange, Shen used his cannon to kill Master Thundering Rhino and sent his two students, Masters Storming Ox and Croc, to prison. He then kept the Soothsayer with him in the Tower of Sacred Flame as a prisoner.
Some time later, Shen asked the Soothsayer to tell him what was in his future. She was initially uncooperative, plucking a feather from his wing, eating the hem of his robe, and stating the obvious when she told him about his pain, anger, and denial. But at last, she obliged and read Shen's future anyway. However, her old vision of him being defeated by a panda remained unchanged. Shen refused to believe any pandas still lived, since he had already destroyed a panda-populated village to avert the Soothsayer's prophecy. He was proven wrong, though, when Boss Wolf entered and told him that he had recently battled with a panda. The Soothsayer watched as Shen ordered the wolf to bring the panda to him so he could kill him and prove her wrong once and for all. She responded to Shen's challenge without fear, and another bite from his expensive silk robe.
Eventually, Boss Wolf and his pack proved successful in capturing the panda and his comrades, the Furious Five. While they were being brought to him in the palace, the Soothsayer saw Shen practicing what he would say to the panda. She commented that he was afraid, which he denied even though it was quite obvious. When Po and the Five arrived at last, the Soothsayer went up to Po and mentioned how he had grown up bigger than she expected, finding him to be strong and healthy. Confused, Po told her to stand aside and called her "sir". He quickly apologized when Viper corrected him, but the Soothsayer seemed more amused than annoyed by his mistake. Shen, however, was very annoyed until Po destroyed a miniature cannon in the throne room instead of the real one. Laughing, he asked the Soothsayer if she really believed Po was the warrior destined to defeat him, and she replied that she knew he was.
However, it soon became clear that Po did not remember anything about Shen or his role in the destruction of his old home and family. This surprised the Soothsayer, but she had no time to explain anything as the prisoners quickly broke free of their chains and destroyed the cannon in the throne room. She watched when Po lunged to attack Shen, but he froze suddenly, giving the peacock just enough time to escape from the tower through an open window. The shocked Soothsayer was then carried out of the tower by a gorilla guard and was brought to the Fireworks Factory where Shen had fled to. It was at the factory that Shen decided to kill Po and the Five by shooting the tower down with them inside. Although he brought the tower down, the Kung Fu Masters narrowly escaped.
Shen later gloated to the Soothsayer that she was wrong about Po, since the panda had failed to defeat him. But she only criticized Shen for destroying his ancestral home and asked if conquering China would finally satisfy him. When arguing with him failed to change his mind, the Soothsayer tried to reason with Shen and begged him to stop so his parents could rest in peace. Shen insisted that his parents had hated and wronged him, but she said that they had loved him so much that they died of grief. His cold response to this news made it very clear to the Soothsayer that he was determined to follow this path of destruction. Shen then ordered his guards to set her free. Deeply saddened, she told him goodbye and wished him happiness as she left.
The Soothsayer left Gongmen City, but soon found an unconscious and badly-injured Po floating in the river. She took him to the remains of the Panda Village and set about nursing him back to health. When Po woke up, he tried to sneak away from her, but she caught him and made him drink a cup of bad-tasting medicinal tea. She then told Po that she had saved him so that he could fulfill his destiny. When he expressed confusion, she said she was surprised by how little he remembered from when "it" happened. Suddenly, painful memories began flaring inside Po's mind. When she saw him in distress, she suspected that he remembered more than he realized, and that his so-called "nightmares" were really repressed memories coming back to the surface.
To help Po find the truth, the Soothsayer explained to him about the prophecy she had made years ago, when Shen's parents had come to her with fears about their ambitious son's future. She had foreseen that a panda would stand in Shen's way; however, she did not foresee that Shen would attack the Panda Village in order to prevent this. Po then remembered that his father had saved him from Shen's wolves, but it was too painful for him to see after his mother carried him off. The Soothsayer advised him to "stop fighting [and instead] let it flow." He did this by performing the special "inner peace" technique he had recently learned from Master Shifu. Sensing that he had seen the truth of his past, the Soothsayer told him that it was his choices that determined his identity. This helped Po to let go of his pain, accept the present, and decide to defeat Shen for good.
At the end of the film, after Po succeeded in defeating Shen and his army, the Soothsayer was last seen happily watching the fireworks with the rest of Gongmen's joyful citizens.
Although she does not appear in the short, the Soothsayer was briefly mentioned by Po.
The Soothsayer often acts mysterious. However, her credibility is often doubted given her humorous traits; of such include predicting things of seemingly little to no value, making her fortunes real by her own hands (for example, predicting pain in Shen's future, and then ripping off one of his feathers), and eating people's belongings (namely Shen's). It is usually unclear whether she is predicting things metaphorically or literally.
While being by Lord Shen's side, she tried her best to make him reconsider his actions and take another path, given that she knows that if he doesn't, it will end with his demise. Despite his clear dislike of this trait, Shen considered the Soothsayer the only person besides himself he genuinely cared about, given that he had set her free in the oncoming pursuit of his plans rather than executing or imprisoning her in jail. The Soothsayer's wisdom was not to be taken lightly, and also seemed to possess a fatalistic, yet positive, perspective of her fortune-telling, as she displayed unwavering faith that Shen would indeed fall at the hands of Po—a faith that was satisfied at the end of the film. The Soothsayer also has great regard for history and tradition, as shown when she angrily lambasted Shen for destroying the Tower of the Sacred Flame, which had been the Peacocks' ancestral home for centuries.
... the Soothsayer doesn't fight. She wins over opponents with love and a good sense of humor. Her extraordinary gift of second sight gives her insight in the true nature of any and all that she encounters.
As shown when she read Shen's future at his insistence, she seems to use personal effects of someone (e.g. Shen's feather and the hem of his robe) to read their future by burning the objects in a brazier and foreseeing their future in the smoke. Though she has no apparent skills in Kung Fu, she is not afraid to strike someone with her walking stick.
Despite having the ability of reading someone's future, she has no ability in knowing what would happen beforehand. While she is correct that Shen would lead to his own downfall, she's not able to predict that Shen would start a massacre against the pandas before that happens.
She is also observed to be a skilled healer, learned in acupuncture, pressure-points, and making herbal medicine.
Very little is known about Soothsayer's relationship with the Peacocks. However, it can be assumed that Soothsayer was loyal to them, seeing as she served them for years up until their death. Soothsayer seemed to be aware of the Peacocks' love for Shen, their only son.
- “If you continue on your current path, you will find yourself... at the bottom of the stairs.”
Shen and Soothsayer are shown to have a very odd relationship. Soothsayer was Shen's nanny when he was young, and she loved him very much. However, Shen seemed to have lost almost all love for her after he was banished. The two of them also tend to act antagonistically towards each other. (For example, Soothsayer would often bite the hem off of Shen's robes—much to his annoyance—and Shen seemed to take amusement in trying to intimidate her, such as commenting on how he'd like to turn the Fireworks Factory's basement into a dungeon, looking directly at her.) Despite this, Soothsayer tried her best to persuade Shen to stop his plans, all to no avail. However, the Soothsayer seemed to be the only one who Shen truly cared for, seeing how Shen set her free instead of executing or imprisoning her.
- “Your story may not have had such a happy beginning, but that doesn't make you who you are. It is the rest of your story; who you choose to be.”—Soothsayer to Po, Kung Fu Panda 2
Though they'd never met until the events in the film, the Soothsayer had always known of Po, and expressed unwavering faith that he would end Shen's ruthless ambition. When they met in the Tower of Sacred Flame, she examined him, saying he'd "grown up bigger than she'd imagined," while Po mistook her for a "sir" (due to her "misleading beard"), though she expressed no offense and was merely amused. The Soothsayer, however, was surprised when Po did not know of his past or Shen's involvement in the destruction of his old home.
After she was banished from Gongmen City by Shen, she found Po wounded and floating in the river and tended to him in the remains of the village where Po was born so as to help him remember his past. With her help, Po achieved inner peace and was able to defeat Shen, at last lifting the guilt the Soothsayer had felt for so many years.
Soothsayer's clothing consists of eight layers of cloth, all with different patterns and colors. This was specifically designed by character designer Nicolas Marlet based on an image of a Tibetan woman. On the back of the topmost layer of clothing is a large, round, golden symbol resembling the sun with a swirling black design resembling vines on the inside. The Soothsayer also wears a pair of glasses and has five black beads in her beard. To help her walk in her old age, the Soothsayer makes use of an extremely gnarled and bent walking stick.
- A "soothsayer" is defined as someone who practices in the art of divination by predicting the future with the use of magic, intuition, or intelligence.
- Early in the film's storyboarding, the Soothsayer and Po were originally supposed to meet when Po and the Furious Five first arrive in Gongmen City. Their first meeting was later moved ahead, but this version was made into a bonus deleted scene on the film's DVD (viewable here).
- The Soothsayer's large horns were specifically requested from character designer Nicolas Marlet to represent "the wisdom of her many years on this earth." Producer Melissa Cobb also noted how the Soothsayer is "weighed down by these huge horns, reflective of how the outcome of a prediction she made in the past weighs heavily upon her."
- A spoof version of the Soothsayer appeared in a MAD episode called "Kung Fu Blander". She was voiced by Grey DeLisle.