Since Guardians of the Galaxy exceeded expectations at the box office during its release in 2014, the group of five space heroes—Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot—have already become an iconic superhero team. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 adds three more Guardians to the team: Yondu, Nebula, and Mantis. Yondu and Nebula were introduced in the first film but Mantis is brand-new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With just one movie, Star-Lord and the others have already become beloved characters in the eyes of viewers, which means that expectations will be high for the new character.
Much like the other Guardians, Mantis’ character is not well-known to casual viewers prior to her movie debut. However, Mantis is a key character in the comic books and has more established history than Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. Mantis is more akin to Drax and Gamora, who have both been involved with major Marvel storylines since the 1970s. Over the years Mantis has developed ties with the Silver Surfer, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Thanos, and now the Guardians of the Galaxy. The addition of Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff, allows the folks at Marvel Studios to cross one more name off the list of major characters who still need an introduction to the MCU.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Mantis.
15. She married a tree
While still a member of the Avengers, Mantis uncovered her true memories and realized that Kang was right about her being the Celestial Madonna. As it turned out, the Priests of Pama had trained her to fulfill this purpose. When she accepted her destiny, she encountered the Cotati, an alien species of telepathic plants that originated on Hala, the homeworld of the Kree. She discovered that she was given her empathetic powers from the Priests of Pama to allow her to communicate with the Cotati in the future. She was told that as the Celestial Madonna she was expected to marry a tree, which was actually the Elder Cotati. Since Mantis couldn’t mate with a tree, the Elder Cotati reanimated the body of the Swordsman—a man she had loved—as a wedding gift. The purpose of this union was to spawn a child who would be the perfect combination of human and plant. After the wedding, the two turned into pure energy and flew off into space.
14. Mantis was born in Vietnam and worked as a prostitute
The version of Mantis featured in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is clearly an alien, which was confirmed months ago when the director stated that Star-Lord will remain the only human on the team. However, in the comic books, Mantis was a human. She is of Vietnamese and German descent and was born in Vietnam. Her father left her at a temple run by a mysterious sect called the Priests of Pama. The Priests of Pama trained her in martial arts and gave her empathic abilities but never told her why, or that they were also training Moondragon (the human daughter of Drax the Destroyer) for the same purpose. The time Mantis spent with the Priests of Pama gave her a unique personality. She speaks in the third person and always refers to herself as “this one.”
When it was time for Mantis to leave the temple, her experiences were erased from her mind and replaced with false memories of a life as an orphan. She found work as a prostitute, completely unaware of her real past.
13. She joined the Avengers
While working as a prostitute in Vietnam, Mantis met the Swordsman, Hawkeye’s mentor and a villain of the Avengers. Swordsman was at a low point in his life, and his talks with Mantis gave him the boost he needed. After making the decision to turn over a new leaf, the Swordsman took Mantis to the States and the two asked to join the Avengers. Captain America was against the idea due to Swordsman’s history, but was overruled by the majority. Mantis was able to contribute a lot to the team as an expert in martial arts, plus she was the first Avenger to possess any kind of telepathic ability.
12. Mantis has dropped Thor with her “death grip”
Mantis is arguably one of the most skilled martial artists in the Marvel Universe. Her skill is all a result of the training she received from the Priests of Pama. Her fighting prowess is actually the reason for the name “Mantis,” as the movements of the praying mantis are a source of inspiration for many styles of Chinese martial arts.
Her most famous move is an attack she calls her “death grip.” She executes this move by maneuvering onto a person’s shoulders and tapping the pressure points. Mantis once had to use this move on Thor, and to the surprise of all Avengers present, it worked. As Iron Man put it, she dropped Thor “like a bag of potatoes.” This is a feat that would be considered impressive for any Marvel superhero, but for a character with no physical enhancements—it’s phenomenal.
11. Her father is a blind supervillain named Libra
One of the only characters capable of besting Mantis in hand-to-hand combat is her father, a man named Gustav Brandt. He was a mercenary for the French when he met a woman in Vietnam, who soon became the mother of Mantis. When Mantis was an infant, her mother was killed and Brandt was blinded by a flamethrower. He took the child to a temple and met the Priests of Pama, who agreed to care for Mantis, but refused to allow Brandt to enter the temple since he was a tool of war. The two were trained separately. Brandt developed the power to shift into a mystical dimension called the Place Between Places.
Brandt took the name “Libra” and joined the Zodiac Cartel, a group of terrorists based off the 12 signs of the Zodiac. With Zodiac, Libra battled the Avengers multiple times until he discovered his connection to Mantis. Libra reunited with Mantis and made an effort to reform.
10. Mantis fought Doctor Strange during the Avengers-Defenders War
When Loki and Dormannu deceived the Avengers and Defenders into fighting over the pieces of a powerful artifact called the Evil Eye, each team sent their members in different parts of the country to recover them. Mantis was paired with Black Panther to find their piece of the Evil Eye on a farm in Indiana. Their opponent was the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. As both Mantis and Black Panther had no way of attacking the sorcerer at long range, they had to rely on a sneak attack from the Panther. Doctor Strange used the Eye of Agamotto to knock him away. After Mantis engaged him in hand-to-hand combat, Mantis was shocked when the sorcerer was able to dodge her blows. Mantis tried to keep him distracted while Panther outflanked him, but being masters of martial arts didn’t save the Avengers from a spell that drained them of their energy.
9. Mantis tried to have an affair with Vision
Shortly after joining the Avengers, Swordsman noticed a certain coldness in Mantis’ behavior toward him. She treated him as if he meant nothing to her, and before long Swordsman began to pay attention to the way she acted around the Vision. When the Swordsman gave voice to his jealousy, Scarlet Witch began to notice as well. Scarlet Witch developed a deep hatred for Mantis that has yet to fade, and for good reason. Soon Mantis began making moves on her android teammate, greatly angering the Swordsman. Mantis believed that her empathy with nature had pointed her to Vision because he was well-suited to her needs. She also felt that their current lovers were “unworthy” of them. Vision, always true to Scarlet Witch, rejected Mantis at every turn.
8. Kang the Conqueror kept coming back to the 20th century because of Mantis
If there’s any villain who fights the Avengers more than Ultron, it’s Kang the Conqueror. The time-traveling warlord visited the 20th century multiple times to clash with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. For a time-traveler like Kang, there are thousands of places and times he could be, but the 20th century seemed to be his favorite destination. Kang later revealed that there was a reason for this: he knew that the 20th century was the time period that would see the birth of the Celestial Madonna, a person who would mate with the most powerful man in the world.
When looking for the Celestial Madonna, Kang narrowed it down to three women: Agatha Harkness, Scarlet Witch, and Mantis. He captured the three women and the Avengers but spared the Swordsman, claiming that the Swordsman wasn’t worth capturing.
7. Mantis has telepathic, empathic, and plant powers
Mantis didn’t get to be an Avenger and the Celestial Madonna by just being the “Mistress of Martial Arts.” When fighting alongside the Avengers, Mantis was able to sense “vibrations” that would alert her to disturbances. For example, her mind was able to detect the magical presence of Doctor Strange. She has also displayed precognitive abilities that she’s able to use to foresee danger.
Mantis is also known for empathic powers, taught to her by the Priests of Pama. She can psychically sense the emotions of others.
After Mantis became the Celestial Madonna, she gained the ability to communicate with plants. Her connection to the Cotati caused her to manifest other plant powers as well. She can now control vegetation, including the sap within Groot. Mantis can also change the color of her skin to green at will.
6. She was a DC character for a short time
The character of Mantis was created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck. Shortly after Mantis left the Avengers, Englehart left Marvel in 1976 to write Justice League of America for DC. In one issue, he introduced a character called “Willow,” who claimed that “this one” came from a place that she couldn’t name. Willow was clearly a renamed version of Mantis. At the time, Mantis was pregnant, presumably with the child of the Cotati Elder. When she left to give birth, that was the last she was seen in any comic book published by DC. What’s significant about her appearance in Justice League of America is that this was the first time Mantis was seen with green skin, an appearance she has become known for in modern comics.
5. Mantis and the Silver Surfer fought the Elders of the Universe, including Ego the Living Planet
When Mantis returned to Marvel Comics, she began a guest-starring stint in the pages of Silver Surfer, where she and the Surfer had to go up against the Elders of the Universe, a group of the oldest and most powerful beings in the universe, including Grandmaster and the Collector. Silver Surfer and Mantis discovered that the 14 Elders were involved in a secret plot to kill Galactus, even though they all knew that his death would bring the destruction of reality itself. Having recently acquired immortality, the Elders believed they could survive the event. Mantis and the Surfer followed them to a mysterious planet, only to discover that the ground they stood on had a life of its own. They were standing atop Ego the Living Planet, a member of the Elders of the Universe. Unable to beat the Elders by themselves, Mantis and the Surfer fended off Ego until they were able to escape.
4. She can create a new body out of vegetation
Mantis continued helping the Surfer thwart the Elders’ plans until she was caught in an explosion and seemingly killed. Somehow, she awoke on Earth with no memory of the past few years and sought the West Coast Avengers for help in discovering the truth. When they came to the grave of the Swordsman, the body of the former villain emerged from his burial spot and attacked them. Once again it was the Cotati Elder who was in control of the dead Avenger’s body. When he stabbed Mantis with his sword, tree sap gushed out of the wound, where there should have been blood. The Cotati Elder’s intention had been to reveal that Mantis’ consciousness had left her body after her union with the Cotati Elder. Mantis’s spirit traveled across the cosmos until she created another body out of vegetation, which explained the green skin. Mantis is now capable of repeating this feat whenever she wants.
3. Mantis was split into fragments all over the universe
When Mantis was caught in the explosion in the fight against the Elders, what actually occurred was that she was split into five fragments, with each one housing a certain side of her personality. It was one of those “fragments” that encountered the West Coast Avengers. Another fragment was involved in an adventure with the Fantastic Four. Since none of them were a whole person, they soon faded from the memories of the people they encountered. In time, each of the five fragments found their way to Earth, allowing their connection to grow stronger.
Thanos followed them to Earth and killed four of the fragments. With each one’s death, it’s essence flowed into the next. When only one remained, the essence of all the fragments combined, making Mantis whole again for the first time in years.
2. Thanos tried to kill her son
In Avengers: Celestial Quest, the Avengers teamed with Mantis to save her son from Thanos. Her son Sequoia was the half-plant, half-human offspring of her union with the Cotati Elder. Sequoia was fated to become the Celestial Messiah, the God of Life. Thanos, who envisioned himself as the God of Death, felt compelled to kill him. Sequoia proved too powerful for Thanos and became one of the few beings capable of defeating the Mad Titan.
When Thanos and the Avengers were attacked by an entity called the Rot, they had to work together to escape. When it was all over, Mantis parted ways with her son so that he could fulfill his destiny as the Celestial Messiah, just as she had done years earlier when she became the Celestial Madonna.
1. She helped form Star-Lord’s Guardians of the Galaxy
After helping a group of cosmic heroes defeat Ultron during Annihilation: Conquest, Mantis and Star-Lord made a secret arrangement to form the Guardians of the Galaxy with the intention of cleaning up the mess left by Ultron. Star-Lord had Mantis use her psychic powers to mentally influence Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, and Phyla-Vell into joining the team. As a Guardian, Mantis was present when the team faced the Universal Church of Truth led by the Magus. She was also around when they found a time-displaced Vance Astro, a founding member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.
When this secret came out that she had mentally influenced her teammates, it became difficult for the Guardians to stay together. When the others left, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Mantis, Bug, and Vance Astro carried on without them until they returned. The Guardians had a series of adventures leading up to a climactic showdown with Thanos, who Star-Lord was able to defeat with the Cosmic Cube.
Mantis is expected to return as a Guardian when they face off with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.