Fenghuang was raised in noble luxury as part of a wealthy family of Eurasian eagle-owls, who arranged her to be tutored in Kung Fu under Grand Master Oogway. Because Oogway all at once recognized special skills within the owl chick, he refined them in their mentoring sessions while taking her on as a student at the Jade Palace and a member of the original Furious Five - alongside Shifu, Junior Elephant, Rooster and Snow Leopard. But as she trained, however, Fenghuang gradually grew stronger until learning the Seven Impossible Moves of Kung Fu made her the most powerful of the Five, which throughout Kung Fu history was a position that led its holders into turning dark, twisted and evil.
By the time the young owl's change to evil was complete, she challenged her master to a duel, believing that she deserved to be the next master of the Jade Palace. But because the old tortoise already foresaw her downfall, he presented an inescapable owl-shaped cage to contain her with, but agreed to try and defeat her in battle in order to get her inside. After a long disastrous battle in which her fellow teammates were the audience, Fenghuang fell at Oogway's feet in exhaustion when realizing that she couldn't defeat her and fled from the Palace before she could be apprehended. A rumor eventually sparked that she had ever since been hiding up in the Northern Mountains, too afraid of Oogway being present if she returned.
Many years later, Po ended up in the Northern Mountains after leaving the Valley of Peace due to Shifu's and the Furious Five's suspicions of evil in his heart following his unexpected use of one of the Seven Impossible Moves, the Thundering Wind Hammer, on Temutai during his Qidan Clan's first invasion on the Jade Palace. Fenghuang found him and took him back to her cave, where the panda explained his troubles to her and mentioned Oogway's passing shortly after he chose him as the Dragon Warrior. Surprised but excited, the sinister owl took this news as her opportunity to conquer the Valley from the Jade Palace, but when she asked Po to join her, he refused and fought her briefly. Fenghuang took off, however, leaving the panda in her lair, promising that he would eventually come around to her way of thinking.
Returning to the palace itself, she first confronted Shifu (who at the moment held the same incense that she came to dislike while still a student there), and the two engaged in combat. Fenghuang's sharp and swift Kung Fu overwhelmed both him and the Furious Five, but right when she had her red panda rival at her mercy, Po came crashing in on a hang-glider made out of her feathers, collected from her cave. As they fought, Fenghuang asked him why would he fight for friends who had wanted him gone. Though this affected the young Dragon Warrior momentarily, he used the Thundering Wind Hammer to attack the owl, but surprisingly she blocked the move and tried to sway him to her side by teaching him the other six impossible moves, including the Mongolin Fireball. With the corruption complete, Fenghuang ordered the panda to kill Shifu, and did so by striking a dagger into his own master. She was briefly put off guard in her supposed triumph, but Po snuck up from behind and trapped into the same owl-shaped cage Oogway had designed for her, having faked his change to evil since the dagger he "stabbed" Shifu with was just a toy he bought from the village down in the Valley so that he could leave the red panda alive and well. Outraged, the trapped eagle-owl swore to make him pay for his treachery as she was then towed away to Chorh-Gom Prison.
As a year went by, Fenhuang's cage started to lose hold on her until she easily destroyed it, enabling her to break out of Chorh-Gom. Arriving at the Valley of Peace, she crashed a charity auction hosted by Po's adoptive father Mr. Ping for the new children's hospital and fought Po and the Five until the owl publicly humiliated Crane by throwing him into a wall. But her attacks soon failed due to the six Kung Fu warriors shielding themselves against her talons with iron, and she fled back to her cave to heal. Crane stayed behind while his comrades went after her, climbing the mountains until Fenghuang bested them with new steal talons. However, Crane showed up and helped them, challenging the owl in an aerial battle with help from Po. Their fight led back into the Valley, where the panda was knocked out, leaving Crane to fight Fenghuang alone. Seeing him panic, Fenghuang proceeded to laugh at him, but he took her on and managed to defeat the owl himself.