With Marvel’s Doctor Strange just a matter of months out from theatrical release and principal photography already underway on Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok – shooting in Atlanta and Australia, respectively – there’s another Marvel Studios blockbuster already in the can set for release in less than 300 days: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Director and writer James Gunn, who returns to helm the followup, has been teasing some major news and announcements on the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe at San Diego Comic-Con next week – including a teaser trailer for GOTG 2 – and overnight shared something to get fans excited. A new piece of conceptual art by the talented Andy Park (who’s been sharing all sorts of unused designs for Captain America: Civil War recently) which reveals a look at the full, larger team – and a first look at Mantis.

Miniature Groot? Check! More female team members as promised to us by Gunn? Check! And original Guardians from the comics as part of the team? Check! An all-new character not from the first movie? Check!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Team Concept Art Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Concept Art Introduces Mantis

Here’s what Gunn had to say on Facebook when sharing the art:

Well here you go, my friends. First bit of new concept art featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, first revealed by our friends at Entertainment Weekly. Drax, baby Groot, Yondu, Star-Lord, Mantis, Rocket, Nebula, and Gamora. Art by my wonderful pal Andy Park – this image led us a lot as we were developing the film. I can’t wait to show you guys more of what we have in store for you… stay tuned for San Diego Comic-Con announcements next week! #GotGVol2″

As for Mantis, a key character in the modern Guardians of the Galaxy comics by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (see: their 2008-10 run) for which Gunn’s films are inspired by, she’s played by Pom Klementieff. Executive producer Jonathan Schwartz vaguely teases her dynamics on the team:

“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.”

In the books, Mantis was physically able with martial arts skills but possessed the powers of empathy and telepathy, even using precognition. She manipulated the Guardians into sticking together under the orders of Star-Lord which, when revealed to the members, split the team in two (with the other team led by Rocket). And for little Groot, who’s now role-reversed with Rocket:

“He doesn’t have the wisdom and experience of that Groot. He’s a younger Groot and a more rambunctious Groot. The question is, is he the same Groot, just smaller? Or is he a different Groot that’s sprung up from the seed of the first Groot?”

While no official announcement has been made, Gunn did attach Vin Diesel’s Facebook to this posting, so perhaps the actor is voicing tiny Groot this time around as well. We’re still curious what that may sound like.

Share your thoughts in the comments and look forward to next Saturday for the Marvel Studios panel where the cast will be on stage to share new footage and news!

More: Marvel Post-Credits Scenes We Need to See

Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.

Sources: EW, James Gunn

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