Ever since she was introduced in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, up to the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in which she takes the fore, the MCU’s Mantis is among the most unassuming characters that easily fall into the background. Portrayed by the wonderfully talented Pom Klementieff, Mantis is an innocent but extremely empathic crew member of the Guardians. Mantis isn’t as overtly ingenious as Rocket or as combat-trained as Nebula. But, she has proven herself as a pivotal force within the crew.
In fact, her maternal instinct, matched with her wide-eyed and wholesome approach to the Guardians universe, make her the perfect foil to the sometimes plucky crew. Here are five things we love about the MCU Mantis:
1. She’s Socially Awkward
That’s very entertaining. The MCU Mantis actually differs from her comic book counterpart, especially when it comes to her backstory. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, when she first comes across the Guardians, it’s clear she’s among the first beings she has ever encountered, apart from Ego, the Living Planet. In her debut movie, she explains that Ego took her in as an orphan and raised her. But Ego is a loner — a celestial whose primary physical form is that of a life-supporting planet uninhabited by intelligent life.
So, while Ego ran around, spreading his seed throughout the universe (the blue pods he left on countless worlds), Mantis was left on the planet with no one to play or interact with. Once she met the Guardians, she learned social interaction skills from Drax: a brutish and battle-tested warrior who also lacks a few points in the social skills department. This led to various situations in which she embarrassed Peter by revealing his feelings for Gamora, which Drax found hilarious.
2. She’s Peter’s Sister
As we recently found out in the Holiday Special, Mantis is the result of one of Ego’s attempts to procreate, which also means she’s Peter’s half-sister. So, she’s forgiven for embarrassing him — that’s what siblings do. In the Special, she and Drax, with whom she has an interesting relationship, learn that Yondu ruined Christmas for Peter. So, they go to Earth to retrieve Peter Quill’s childhood hero, actor Kevin Bacon.
They arrive in Hollywood, kidnap Bacon, wreak havoc, and return to Knowhere. On Knowhere, they set off a whole string of events, which results in Mantis telling Peter she’s his half-sister. Apparently, she didn’t want to tell him the truth out of fear of reminding him of his father Ego’s misdeeds. But after telling him the truth, he admits that that’s the greatest gift he ever got.
3. She’s Really Powerful
The only time the audience got to see just how powerful Mantis is was on Titan in Infinity War. She almost singlehandedly defeated Thanos by nearly putting him to sleep. Unfortunately, the mad titan possessed a greater power of will in the film and overcame her abilities. This loosely matches one of the narratives from the comics, in which the two clashed, and Thanos succeeded in destroying several of Mantis’s fragments.
However, he unknowingly hastened her transformation into the goddess of life. Once regenerated, Mantis’ will prove to be stronger than Thanos, and she “snapped” the floor with him. The MCU Mantis didn’t seem combat-ready until the Holiday Special revealed that she actually has superhuman strength and fighting abilities not previously portrayed in the films. The upcoming Phase 5 may focus more on Mantis and her combat abilities.
4. She’s Funny
Most heroines and villainesses in the MCU are strong, tough, uncompromising, or intimidating ladies. As a result, they don’t get to be as entertaining as Mantis does. Admittedly, she has a strong maternal instinct. However, when it comes to The Guardians, Mantis is just as quirky as the rest of them. So, the maternal role falls on Gamora rather than Mantis.
With that said, The Guardians of the Galaxy are an odd comedic bunch. Mantis is an oddity among oddities, and the character is funny in a unique way. For example, for all her empathic abilities and good nature, her eyes lit up when Rocket suggested that Peter and Thor settle their differences using knives. That contrast between innocence and sociopathy is the funniest thing about Mantis.
5. Relationship With Drax
Mantis’s friendship with Drax is the most ridiculous thing ever since she’s an empath, and he’s a battle-hardened brute with no brain-mouth filter. In fact, when they met, he continuously told her she was ugly as if it was a fact. He then adds that that’s a good thing because she’ll know that someone loves her for who she is.
He also convinces her that she’s Ego’s pet. But the biggest sign of their friendship is when he calls her beautiful, and then, after a long pause, he adds “on the inside.” Also, she’s never shy from emotional sharing with Drax, regardless of whether they’re making fun of Quill or sharing grief over Drax’s lost family.
Meeting the Guardians has inspired Mantis to become a hero herself. Unfortunately, she still hasn’t had her shiniest moment in the MCU. We can only hope that the MCU Phase 5 will change this and bring us even more Mantis to love.