Why We Love the Newest Guardian of the Galaxy

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies Marvel
Movies Marvel

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we are introduced to Mantis. Not only does she become the newest member of the team in this sequel to the 2015 original, but she has also quickly grown on us. We love Mantis already, and here’s why – although you might want to reconsider reading on if you’re concerned about SPOILERS.

The Unconventional Love Story

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These two, eh? Photo credit: Film Frame

The chemistry between Drax and Mantis is pure joy. Their unconventional romance is one of the highlights of GOTG2. Drax continually tells her she’s ugly, as if it’s a fact. And he definitely means it. But he qualifies this by telling her, “When you’re ugly and somebody loves you, you know they love you for who you are.”  He also leads her to believe she’s Ego’s pet, and she tells Gamora: “I’m learning many things, like I’m a pet, and ugly.” Lol.

Drax later tells Mantis she’s beautiful. There’s a long pause before he adds, “on the inside.”

She’s Socially Awkward

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Mantis' lack of social skills leads to situations like this one – she ends up stoking Gamora's wrath

When Mantis first meets the Guardians, it becomes apparent that these are among the first beings she’s encountered aside from her “master”, Ego the Living Planet. Ego found her as an orphan, she says, and kept her and raised her. Ego is a lonely creature – a celestial being whose main physical form is that of uninhabited planet – and while he was off impregnating the likes of Peter’s mum, presumably Mantis was left behind on Ego’s planet with no one to interact with.

This leads to her learning about social interaction from the likes of Drax, which in turn leads to the moment where she attempts to demonstrate her empath abilities and read Gamora’s feelings. Gamora instantly recoils, saying, “Touch me and the only thing you’ll feel is a broken jaw”. She clearly knows her feelings for Peter are about to get outed…

She Totally Embarrasses Star-Lord

Let’s face it, Peter Quill has always been a bit of a would-be ladies man. But because he has real feelings for Gamora, he doesn’t want to let on – even though he’s always trying to doink her. But that’s all part of the swaggering, up-himself persona he likes to project. So when Mantis touches him and reads his emotions, she reveals his romantic feelings for Gamora. In front of Gamora. And Drax, who finds it hilarious. Quill denies it but the jig is up. Awks.

She’s Funny

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She is sometimes the butt of the joke, but Mantis also gets some great lines

…And she’s the only female character in the whole film allowed to be. While Gamora and Nebula get to be strong, badass women, they don’t get to be funny. Gamora also fills the role of mother figure for the entire team.

The other woman newcomer, of course, is Ayesha, the High Priestess of the Sovereigns and while she gets to be a pretty ruthless and formidable villain, she also doesn’t get to be funny. And this is in a film full of funny people, characters and performances – it’s a blessed relief that there’s at least one woman finally that gets some funny bits.

She Sparks A Conversation About what Her Antennae Are For

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Mantis' antennae are very sensitive – but not in the way Drax thinks

Yep, Drax and Peter actually discuss what purpose Mantis’ antennae serve. And openly discuss in front of her the bet that they’ve made. Drax suggests that they act like a cat’s whiskers, allowing her to feel doorways so she isn’t decapitated. Peter asks her to clear it up, but if their purpose is for anything other than avoiding decapitation, he wins.

She says they’re connected to her empath abilities – and they light up at the end when she’s channelling her powers.

She’s Got Awesome Powers

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She's far from boring, but Mantis easily sends Ego to sleep

Aside from reading people’s emotions, she’s also able to manipulate feelings. She can make a sad person happy or a stubborn person compliant – pretty useful in lots of circumstances. But the most crucial of all her powers in GOTG2 is her ability to induce sleep. She’s even able to put Ego under when he’s at his most aggressive, and it isn’t until she’s clonked on the head by a falling rock that the connection is broken and Ego wakes up. Impressive.

She’s Very Different to Her Comic Incarnation

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The GOTG2 Mantis is very different from the comic-book version

Voted one of the 100 sexiest women in comics, the first incarnation of Mantis in comic-book form has her as a former prostitute. By contrast, the Mantis we meet in GOTG2 is demure and naïve with little knowledge of sex and relationships. Mantis of the comics has an unusual and involved back story, while Mantis of GOTG2 tells us she’s led a very sheltered life having spent it mainly with Peter’s father Ego on his planet after her took her in as an orphaned larva.

We’re looking forward to seeing Mantis again in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and reckon there’s a lot more to come.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.