- "Telepaths know 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 to 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.
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- "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
Ego eventually got wind on his son's whereabouts and, accompanied by Mantis, tracked him and his friends, the Guardians of the Galaxy, to the planet Berhert. There, Mantis was introduced to the Guardians as a friend and ally to Ego. During this brief interaction on Berhert, Quill was quickly swayed to travel with Mantis and Ego to visit their planet. Even though she was shy and insecure, she managed to bond with the Guardians during this time.
Drax, Quill and Gamora then boarded Ego's ship, soon to reach Ego's planet. Mantis briefly 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 Drax, Quill and Gamora. Unaware of social convention, Mantis used her empathic powers to reveal Quill's attraction to Gamora, without realizing the value of his privacy, causing Drax to burst out in laughter at his friend's deepest, darkest secret being exposed. Mantis then adhered to Drax's request to use her powers on him, and as a result, 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.
Over the next few days, Mantis continued to bond with the Guardians, especially Drax, who was drawn to her innocence. Her fondness for the team grew to the point where she found herself unwilling to let Ego continue his plan, which would result in the team's deaths. She revealed to Drax and Gamora of Ego's true intents, and together with the Luphomoid assassin Nebula, they rescued Quill just as Ego was preparing to begin the Expansion.
Mantis briefly aided in the battle against Ego. After being encouraged by Drax, she was able to use her powers to make Ego sleep, keeping him from fighting for a few minutes, almost until Baby Groot managed to put a bomb on Ego's core. However, she was knocked unconscious by a piece of falling debris, and Drax carried her to the surface so they could be rescued. Ego then perished when his planet was destroyed by the bomb, and Mantis, no longer bound to him, was 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.
Powers and Abilities
- "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."
- Pathokinesis: 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 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.”