- "Telepaths feel thoughts. Empaths feel feelings... emotions."
Mantis is a young empathic woman raised by the Celestial Ego and recruited as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Since she was a child, Mantis helped ease Ego's neurotic behavior with her powers until the Guardians of the Galaxy came to his planet. After bonding with Drax the Destroyer, she came to care for the Guardians and then allied with them to help prevent Ego from conquering the Galaxy. With her own servitude to Ego ended, she became a full-fledged member of the Guardians and accompanied them on further adventures.
- "Ego found me in a larva state. Orphaned on my home world. He raised me by hand and kept me as his own."
Mantis came from a race of empathic insectoid beings who developed from a larval stage into a humanoid form. When she was still a larvae, Mantis lived as an orphan until she was was taken by the Celestial known as Ego and brought to his planet. There, she lived alone with Ego all the way into adulthood, and as such is naive, and does not know much about social interaction. Ego's took use of Mantis' empathic abilities to ease his mind during his long, galaxy-scouring search for his long-lost son, Peter Quill, helping him sleep whenever it was needed. Mantis was well aware of Ego's Expansion plot, as well as the deaths of the various children who failed to help him finish it, but nonetheless remained in his services as she had nowhere else to go.
Meeting the Guardians
Father and Son Reunion
- "I am Mantis."
"What are you doing?"
"Smiling. I heard it is the thing to do to make people like you."
- ―Mantis and Drax the Destroyer
Ego eventually got wind on his son's whereabouts and, accompanied by Mantis, tracked him and the Guardians of the Galaxy to the planet Berhert. There, Mantis was introduced to the Guardians as a friend and ally to Ego. That night the group sat around a fire and the Guardians talked with Ego and Mantis stayed quite for most of the conversation. Mantis then attempted to introduce herself to Drax by smiling at him which he thought was hideous. When Mantis asked if she could pat Rocket Raccoon believing him to be a puppy, Drax said she could resulting in Rocket trying to bite her which was all apart of Drax's practical joke which both of them found funny.
After convincing Quill to return back to they planet, Quill who was accompanied by Gamora and Drax joined Mantis and Ego onboard their ship as they prepared to leave Berhert. Onboard, Mantis tended to Ego separate to the others, using her empathic powers to induce a state of sleep upon Ego.
With Ego unconscious, Mantis took the time to converse with the Guardians of the Galaxy. As Mantis joined them, Drax the Destroyer and Peter Quill questioned her about her antennas and their purpose which Drax believed they were for protecting her from low levelled doors. Mantis explained that she is an Empath and can read peoples feelings. She used her powers on Quill to reveal his attraction to Gamora, due to not be aware of the value of his privacy. This caused Drax to burst out in laughter which Mantis then adhered to Drax, and as a result, she shared in his amusement of the situation. Once the laughter had died down, Mantis tried to move onto Gamora, but was threatened with a broken jaw if she tried.
Mantis also informed the three that she is also able to alter emotions which she mostly uses to help Ego sleep. Drax asked for her to do it to him which she complied, putting him to sleep instantly. The group eventually made it to Ego's planet after their trip where Mantis found herself bonding with the three.
Bonding with Drax
As Peter Quill reunited with Ego, Mantis and Drax the Destroyer continued to bond with each other as Drax was drawn to her innocence. Drax asked how Mantis ended up on Ego's planet, which she informed him that Ego had found her during her larva state and had kept her as his own from then on, which Drax believed made her his pet. Drax then stated that he thought Mantis was hideous, but it meant it was a good thing as Ego loved her for who she was on the inside, making Mantis proud to be ugly.
Drax then told Mantis about his daughter and how he used to take her to the forgotten lakes of his home world and her and Mantis shared similarities with their innocence. Mantis, bonding with Drax, used her powers on him making her feel his sadness. Getting to know Drax caused Mantis to care for him and the team, so she decided to inform him of Ego's true intentions, when Gamora interrupted her causing her to keep quite.
Gamora, believing something to be wrong, then asked for Mantis to show them to their quarters where they would be staying. As they made their way, Gamora asked about the lack of population on Ego's planet, which Mantis states she is only there to assist Ego. When Gamora brought up what she was going to tell Drax earlier, Mantis chose to continue lying to them.
Turning Against Ego
After eavesdropping on a conversation between Ego and Peter Quill, Mantis could not let the people she had bonded with suffer from Ego's plans. She headed to Drax's quarters to inform him of the danger about to commence, but Drax thought she wanted to be intimate with him, which made him gag. Mantis reassured him that is not how she feels and then proceed to inform him of Ego's plan.
After informing Drax, Gamora and Nebula bursted in and Gamora attacked Mantis wanting to know what was happening on the planet. She then used her powers to altar Gamora's emotions to make her scared, resulting in her to let Mantis go. Mantis informed them that the dead bodies in the caverns were Ego's children. Gamora made it clear that they had to get off go the planet, but Mantis told her that Ego would have manipulated Quill to his side. Mantis, along with Drax, Gamora and Nebula rushed to save Quill from Ego as he started his Expansion until Rocket, Yondu Udonta and Groot crashed down in a ship, temporarily defeating Ego.
Mantis along with the rest of the Guardians, entered the Laser Drill and proceeded to fly down to Ego's core to destroy it. Mantis informed the group they have to hurry when destroying the core as Ego will find them. When the Sovereign began to attack, Mantis, Drax and Gamora fell out of the ship. Mantis managed to land safely on the ground and they witnessed Ego reforming in front of them. Drax then asked Mantis to use her powers to put Ego to sleep, but she doubted herself due to Ego's power. Drax then reassured that she didn't have to believe in herself as he believed in her. Mantis then touched the surface and used her powers to put Ego to sleep as he was about to attack them.
When Udonta used the Laser Drills's weapons to destroy the Sovereign fleet, one of the lasers nearly hit Mantis and Drax, but she was still able to maintain control over Ego. The rest of the Guardians then regrouped while Mantis continued to control Ego, until she was knocked out causing Ego to regain control. Drax picked her up and flew her up to the surface where Kraglin Obfonteri was waiting to pick up the Guardians in the Quadrantl As Drax made his way, Ego began to attack each member which caused Drax to sink into the ground but still managed to lift Mantis above the ground. When Drax was freed by Quill, he continued to the ship and put Mantis inside.
Guardian of the Galaxy
Joining the Team
- "It's beautiful."
"It is. And so are you... on the inside."
- ―Mantis and Drax the Destroyer
As the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy made their way up to the Quadrant, Groot detonated the bomb on Ego's core causing Ego to perish, and Mantis, no longer bound to him. The Guardians then flew away with Peter Quill and Yondu Udonta still on the collapsing surface. The Guardians eventually retrieved Quill and a lifeless Udonta from space and then held a funeral for their fallen ally. After the funeral, the Guardians watched as the Ravagers arrived and gave Udonta a Ravagers Farewell. As Mantis watched, she stated he she thought it was beautiful, which Drax the Destroyer added by calling Mantis beautiful, admitting to his true thoughts on Mantis. Mantis was then welcomed as a new member of the Guardians.
- "You are horrifying to look at. But that's a good thing."
"When you're ugly and someone loves you, you know they love you for who you are. Beautiful people never know how to trust."
"Well, then I am certainly grateful to be ugly!"
- ―Drax and Mantis
Mantis is somewhat naïve, showing no offence when Drax the Destroyer refers to her as Ego's pet and not understanding what a practical joke is or that she embarrassed Peter Quill by revealing his attraction to Gamora. This is probably due to her being isolated with Ego for most of her life. She holds a passive demeanour, always bowing her head in Ego's presence and being hesitant to attack anyone.
- "When I touch someone, I can feel their feelings."
- ―Mantis to Guardians of the Galaxy
- Empathy: Mantis can sense a person's emotions and feelings through mere touch, making her antennas light-up. She was able to feel that Star-Lord was attracted to Gamora just by touching his hand. In addition, she can also experience a person's feelings rather than simply sensing them, allowing her to feel the grief and sadness of Drax, which caused her to weep, even while he remained emotionless on the outside.
- "I can also alter emotions to some extent."
"Yeah, like what?"
"If I touch someone who is sad, I can ease them into contentment for a short while. I can make a stubborn person compliant."
- ―Mantis and Peter Quill
- "You are scared."
"What did she do to me?!"
- ―Mantis and Gamora
- Empathic Manipulation: Mantis is also able to manipulate emotions to some degree using her touch. For example, she can make a sad person happy, or calm down an angry one. She was able to cause Gamora to become scared when attacking her. She has even shown herself to be able to make people more docile, to the point of unconsciousness.
- Sleep Inducement: Mantis can, also through touch, cause a person to fall asleep almost instantly, using her powers to manipulate a person into becoming docile. This technique can even incapacitate an enraged Celestial, but doing so requires a lot of willpower.
- Enhanced Durability: Though outwardly she appears weak and does not demonstrate having great physical strength, Mantis can has shown herself to be quite resilient to injury, further than that of humans and similar to that of Gamora or Drax the Destroyer. She was therefore able to effortlessly land on her feet, completely unharmed after falling from several stories with Drax and Gamora and was merely knocked unconscious when a piece of debris struck her at full force.
- Guardians of the Galaxy - Teammates
- Nebula - Former Teammate
- In the comics, Mantis was a human of Vietnamese and German descent whose father left her in the care of a sect of the Kree Empire called the Priests of Pama, who raised her with the intent of eventually mating her with the Cotati to produce a Celestial Messiah, as part of their religious prophecies. Later, she had her memory wiped and was sent to live alongside mankind to gain life experience, and has been a member of the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Fantastic Four, and the Inhumans on various occasions.
Behind the Scenes
- In an interview, executive producer Jonathan Schwartz said “She has never really experienced social interaction, everything she learns about dealing with people, she learns from the Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a very weird group to learn your social intricacies from.”
- Boni Yanagisawa, Kelly Bellini and Tamiko Brownlee were stunt doubles for Pom Klementieff in the role of Mantis.