Mantis In The Marvel Comics Shows The 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2' Character's Unexpected Backstory
The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is packed with characters. While Chris Pratt's Peter Quill is the series' half-human, half-alien protagonist, the team of guardians he leads are an even more interesting bunch. From the tree-like Groot to the warrior assassin Gamora, it's the ensemble characters that keep fans returning. In Guardians of the Galaxy 2, another character is being introduced to the group; Mantis, who, in the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, was an already big presence.
Mantis is a unique superhero, and her primary power is sensing emotions through touch. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the antennae-clad character was originally a sidekick in Stephen Englehart's 1973 Avengers comic no. 112, and is a reformed villain. The character's beginnings are in Vietnam, where she meets a character called the Swordsman while working as a sex worker in a bar. Both characters then find redemption; Mantis helps the Swordsman reform and rejoin the Avengers, and then she too becomes an ally to the group of superheroes.
Of course, her story gets even weirder; when the Swordsman dies later in the series, Mantis reveals she was in love with him. Then, she takes on the role a "Celestial Madonna," which the Marvel comic describes as "the most important being in the universe." This meant that she needed to leave earth and the Avengers to raise a child with an alien tree, which has taken on the form of the deceased Swordsman. You know, just normal life story stuff.
After departing earth to raise her alien-tree child, Mantis dropped out of the comics for a few years. This is partially because creator Englehart left to work for DC for a brief period, but the writer eventually returned to the Marvel universe. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mantis had another villainous stint in some comics in the 1990's, but the plot lines were abandoned and discounted as an time travel plot gone wrong. In a 2001 book titled Avengers: Celestial Quest, Mantis got her own storyline once more. In this comic, the super villain Thanos tries to hunt down the hero and her son. Luckily, she wasn't vanquished, and the next time she appeared in a Marvel comic it would be her introduction to the Guardians of the Galaxy universe.
In Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's 2007 miniseries Annihilation: Conquest - Star-lord, Mantis is folded into the Guardians of the Galaxy story. In the saga, she uses her empath skills to serve as an advisor to the team. In the comics, she eventually grew away from the team, but her starring role in the new movie means she might be put more central to the story.
The first GotG 2 trailers already reveal some potential changes to her character, including hints that she may be the gay superhero director James Gunn hinted at earlier this year. The one thing that is clear, however, is that Pom Klementieff's earnest portrayal of the character is a hilarious addition to the team, serving as the perfect contrast to the film's more snarky superheroes. Her demeanor suits her unexpected empathetic superpower, and that fans are likely to want to know more about the character in future films.
If we're lucky, someone will even be inspired to make a spin-off movie for Mantis, alien-tree lovers and time-traveling villain plot lines included.