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12 Mantis Facts Only Huge Marvel Comics Fans Know About The Guardians Of The Galaxy Hero

Ever have a friend who always seems to know exactly how you're feeling? For the Guardians of the Galaxy, that friend is often the team's resident empath, Mantis. Now a household name thanks to the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, Mantis, played in the films since 2017 by Pom Klementieff, has actually been around since March 1973, when she was introduced in "Avengers" #112 by co-creators Steve Englehart and Don Heck. Though not appearing onscreen until "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," Mantis has very quickly cemented herself as an iconic member of the team, having appeared in several films with her fellow star-spanning adventurers.

With "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" marking Mantis' latest cinematic appearance, now seems like a perfect time to explore some facts that viewers might not know about the character, especially if they only know her from the movies. Is she also an alien in the comics? What powers of hers made the transition from comics to screen, and which were changed or left out? And what's all this talk about a "Celestial Madonna"? Light those antennae up and don't fall asleep, because it's time to get to know Mantis.

Her wildly different origins

Though she first appears in the film alongside Ego (Kurt Russell), Mantis explains in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" that they're not actually from the same planet, and that Ego brought her to his home world to raise her. "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" clarifies that Ego is actually Mantis' dad, explaining how the two came to meet in the first place.

Fans unfamiliar with the source material, however, may be surprised to learn that the Mantis of the comics is from Earth — specifically Saigon, Vietnam. She's not part-alien, either, explaining the lack of black eyes, although she does have her signature antennae, which she grows while training to communicate with an alien plant species known as the Cotati. Rather than being raised by a Celestial like Ego, Mantis is instead brought up by the Priests of Pama, a pacifist Kree sect living on Earth. Once she's 18 years old, however, the priests abandon Mantis in Saigon and jettison her memories of their time with them, so she can continue developing her humanity without being influenced by her alien upbringing. Mantis is also an only child in the comics, having no familial connection at all to Star-Lord (Chris Pratt in the films).

Avenger or Guardian?

The screen Mantis has become practically synonymous with the Guardians of the Galaxy, thanks to the many adventures she's had with them. Though she's interacted with the Avengers, she is a Guardian first and foremost in the MCU.

In the comics, however, Mantis doesn't join the Guardians until decades after her debut, specifically in 2008's "Guardians of the Galaxy" #7 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Paul Pelletier. Prior to that, she actually serves as an Avenger, joining alongside mustached ex-menace the Swordsman in 1973's "The Avengers" #114 by Englehart and Bob Brown. Mantis' timing turns out to be pretty fortuitous for Earth's Mightiest Heroes, as she joins right in time for the famed Avengers/Defenders War, and aids the team against menaces as varied as the Collector, Thanos, and Kang the Conqueror. Though she leaves the team in "Giant-Size Avengers" #4 by Englehart and Heck, she's reunited with several of her teammates over the years.

That's not to sell her time with the Guardians of the comics short, however. Mantis, in fact, joins a proto-version of the team in 2007's "Annihilation Conquest — Starlord" #1 by Keith Giffen and Timothy Green II, and works alongside the first official modern-day Guardians team well before joining them in battles. She even uses her psionic powers, at Star-Lord's urging, to make the Guardians mesh better as teammates, although that royally backfires when the team finds out.

Her supervillainous fathers

Though the Mantis of the movies and the comics is undeniably heroic, her dads tend to be a different matter. Mantis' father in the films, Ego (Kurt Russell), is a pretty cruel customer, murdering Star-Lord's mother, Meredith Quill, (Laura Haddock) and pretty much every one of his kids who didn't inherit his Celestial powers. He also pretty quickly turns on Peter when Star-Lord refuses to get onboard with his plan to expand himself to every planet he's left a piece of himself on, which would be inevitably lethal to those planets' populations.

Mantis' dad in the comics, conversely, is a far less sinister villain — specifically Libra of the Zodiac crime cartel. Libra sires Mantis not long after marrying her mother, Lua Nguyen, during his time as a mercenary soldier with the French military. Libra and Lua are forced into hiding, however, when Lua's xenophobic crime boss brother, Monsieur Khruul, attacks them at their wedding, and it's during that time Mantis is born. Sadly, neither parent gets to raise Mantis for long, as Kruul's forces murder Lua, while Mantis is taken from a blinded Libra by the priests of Pama when he finds their temple. The priests do teach Libra how to fight and adapt to sightlessness, however, and Libra eventually leaves the temple when his greed begins outweighing his desire to see his daughter again. Libra and Mantis eventually reunite while Mantis is an Avenger, though it takes time for Mantis to accept him as kin.

She has way more powers in the comics

One can definitely see where movie Mantis' and comics Mantis' abilities overlap. They both can sense other people's emotions, although the MCU Mantis can only do so while her skin is in contact with another's, and she can also influence feelings. The MCU Mantis also has impressive martial arts abilities comparable to those of her comics counterpart, who learned from the Priest of Pama known as Master L'ai Sau. Film Mantis has an upper hand over comics Mantis, however, in that she's stronger, faster and more durable than any normal Earth person.

Don't count comics Mantis out, however, as she can do a lot of things her MCU movie double can't. For one, her empathic powers can sense others' physical pain and magic usage, including hidden mystical presences. She's also developed many additional psychic powers, including visions of possible futures and recent events. Though not invulnerable, she can heal herself through meditation and even phase in and out of time, thanks to her perfect body control. Mantis is also capable of biopathy, which she's used to make "tele-sensual schematics" and manipulate the physiology of beings like Groot.

Mantis discovers even more powers upon learning she's the Celestial Madonna. She can place her body in suspended animation while her psyche travels great distances, make proxy bodies out of any plant life anywhere — it's quite the list. Her two greatest abilities, however, are manipulating star energy and bonding with the cosmic being Eternity.

Her martial arts skills can topple gods

Sure, "best martial artist in the world" is a pretty impressive title, but one wouldn't normally expect even the greatest martial artist in comics to take down, say, Galactus, unless their strength were in the superhuman range. While Mantis' strength doesn't qualify as superhuman, she has defeated quite a few people you might not expect, including the Norse god of thunder, Thor. Even more impressively, she's defeated the hammer-wielding Avenger twice, using her knowledge of just where to hit him, as well as her infamous "death grip."

It's her sheer martial arts expertise, as well as her perfect body control, that allow Mantis to overcome obstacles that exceed her in strength. Not to mention speed, such as when Mantis catches up to a bullet in "Defenders" #9 by Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema, and knocks Quicksilver out mid-run in "Avengers" #127. The fastest person Mantis has ever gotten the physical upper hand on, however, is the Elder of the Universe called Runner, whose super-speed exceeds that of most characters in the Marvel Universe. Numbers don't faze her, either, as she fights five Avengers at once in "Avengers" #123 by Englehart and Bob Brown, and four in "West Coast Avengers" #37 by Englehart, Al Milgrom and Mike Machlan, including powerhouses like Wonder Man, the Scarlet Witch, Vision and Thor.

She's the Celestial Madonna

Ever wonder if your kids are reaching their full potential? The thought may have crossed Mantis' mind in "Giant-Size Avengers" #2 by Steve Englehart and Dave Cockrum, where a clash with Kang the Conqueror reveals Mantis is the Celestial Madonna: a woman whose child, the Celestial Messiah, is said to become a powerful force of change in the universe. Mantis gets a lot more answers in "Giant-Size Avengers" #4 by Englehart and Heck, where she learns her son's father is meant to be the oldest Cotati living on Earth. After bonding with the Cotati's spirit, Mantis agrees to marry him, and the two disappear into the cosmos as energy beings. Over time, Mantis learns being Celestial Madonna gives her many great powers.

Eventually, Mantis returns to Earth, where she births the son she conceives with the Cotati. Mantis raises her offspring, Sequoia, alone during his early years. Eventually, however, the Cotati separate Sequoia from Mantis and take him to their home planet Tamal, so that Sequoia can learn Cotati rationality without human sentiment. Mantis finally reunites with her son in the mini-series "Avengers: Celestial Quest," only to find he's developed one heck of an attitude, not to mention a swelled head over being the Celestial Messiah. Though relations between mother and son cool after they fend off a clone of Thanos, Sequoia later throws his prophesied role as "ambassador to the universe" out the window to wage war against all non-plant-based species.

Her family and teammate have a few things in common

Given the insect that Mantis is named after, it's probably not too surprising that the character is closely associated with tree life, even if it's not of this planet. In the MCU, of course, Mantis is teammates with Groot (Vin Diesel), the flora colossus whose complex language simply sounds like "I am Groot" to anyone not versed in it. Despite having shared a fair amount of time onscreen together at this point, however, Mantis and Groot's interactions have actually been pretty sparse.

Mantis has a much closer relationship to alien plant life in the comics. Her spouse, like most of his species, literally looks just like a tree, although he sometimes either possesses or recreates the Swordsman's body for Mantis' benefit. Unlike Groot, however, many pure Cotati, including Mantis' mate, can't move their physical bodies around or even talk, and usually communicate through telepathy. Sequoia, Mantis' son, gets around all this by being half-human, which means he's not rooted to soil and can walk and talk, as Groot can. Sequoia is also easier to understand than Groot since he speaks English, having learned it within moments of Mantis and the Avengers' first visit to the Cotati home world of Tamal. There are definitely differences between the two, however — for one, Seqouia is the Celestial Messiah, and unlike the benevolent Groot, loses his way and becomes malevolent in the crossover event "Empyre."

Her MCU connection to Star-Lord was revealed early

Though Mantis states in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" that she has been raised on Ego's home planet, she doesn't quite get into the full details of her heritage. "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" would finally lay it all on the table for fans five years later, when Mantis confesses that she's Ego's daughter and therefore half-sister to Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.

While certainly not out of left field, it likely still surprised a few viewers, as Mantis hadn't outright made reference to such a bond with Peter previously. Moreover, she seems to imply in "Vol. 2" that Ego had adopted her, rather than sired her. Yet eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that one of the women Ego shows Peter in his "diorama of lovers" appears to have a passing resemblance to Mantis. 

Even though James Gunn seemed to imply on Instagram in 2018 that it wasn't meant to insinuate that Mantis and Ego were related, a May 2017 post by Jennifer Sharp (via Reddit) suggested otherwise, with the actor claiming she played Mantis' mother in footage that didn't make the film's theatrical cut. Though efforts were seemingly made to downplay this information, the slip turned out to be true after all. Whether Gunn simply didn't want the twist revealed early or if he didn't decide until later that Mantis and Star-Lord are related is unclear.

The story behind her holiday special costume

"The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" is a big love letter to the holiday season and the kindness it brings out in people. It's also full of visual gags and imagery typical of that time of year. One standout example is Mantis' holiday ensemble, which includes a green Christmas sweater with fuzzy pom-pom baubles, a skirt decorated with wrapping bows and, of course, a hairband with lights and little twin Christmas trees.

It's a great look, made all the more impressive by Mantis' relative unfamiliarity with Earth holidays. As Pom Klementieff related to FilmIsNow, the actress was able to offer a lot of input regarding her character's costume, noting in particular that it was her idea to complement Mantis' antenna with Christmas lights. It's a classic example of how collaboration can make a film better, and Mantis is certainly in good company when it comes to super holiday looks — who can forget the cat with a Santa hat firing eye lasers on Drax the Destroyer's (Dave Bautista) sweater?

Her love life is pretty darn unique

Let's face it — if you spend your time hanging out in space with aliens, then dating is bound to get a little unconventional. Star-Lord alone had romantic entanglements with Kree, Kylorians, and tentacle-laden A'askavariians before dating Gamora, whose green skin sets her apart from most people on Earth.

Yet even by those standards, Mantis arguably has Star-Lord beat. Sure, she hasn't dated anyone in the films, and her closest non-familial relationship, which is with Drax, is strictly platonic. But in the comics, Mantis has loved some truly unexpected folks. Most famously, she's wed a nameless alien tree who sometimes impersonates Swordsman, but she's also dated Vision — a synthezoid — and Galactus' longest-running herald, the Silver Surfer. Her most conventional lover is likely the original Swordsman, Jacques Duquesne, who she helps ditch crime when the two meet in Vietnam. A version of Mantis also dates Immortus while he poses as Kang in the Crossing, but since Mantis turns out to be one of the many shape-shifting Space Phantoms in temporal Limbo, that doesn't really count.

Her rival is Moondragon

Being the Celestial Madonna isn't decided by someone from on high — it's simply the person the Cotati feel is best for the job. And like every "job" that needs filling, it can be helpful to have more than one candidate to choose from. Enter Heather Douglas, aka the high-powered mentat known as Moondragon. Like Mantis, Moondragon is also trained in martial arts and mental communication by the Cotati as a possible Madonna candidate, only she's taught on the Saturn moon Titan by Thanos' father, Mentor. It's her time away from Earth that likely ruins her chances at being the Celestial Madonna, ironically, as Mantis is ultimately picked over Moondragon because her behavior is more human.

Though it's made clear that Moondragon isn't passed over because she's inferior, the choice does grate on her for some time. "Fantastic Four Annual" #25 by Sonja Ratfcliffe and Herb Trimpe has Mantis try to help Moondragon resolve her bitterness by convincing Heather to show off her mettle in a fight. Moondragon defeats Mantis, thus proving to herself she's worthy, and gains a newfound respect for her so-called "rival." It still takes her a while to fully get over being "second place," however.

One universe isn't enough

Ever hear the story of how Howard the Duck secretly switched universes? Or when a bearded Barry Allen ran a race in the Marvel Universe? Comic books are full of "stealth" crossovers between publishers.

Given how commonly they occur, it only makes sense that Mantis co-creator Steve Englehart would want to get in on the fun. In "Justice League of America" #142 by Englehart and and Dick Dillin, Aquaman, Elongated Man and the Atom encounter Willow, a woman whose spaceship is shot down by the robotic menace known as the Construct. Though there are differences, Willow clearly shares many traits with Mantis, including her green skin, empathic powers and martial arts prowess. Even Mantis' marriage to the Cotati Swordsman and her status as the Celestial Madonna are alluded to, with Willow heavily implying that she is indeed Englehart's signature Marvel co-creation.

Another unofficial, and much more overt, Mantis sighting happens in Englehart's creator-owned work. A green-skinned woman going by the name Lorelei encounters Igor Gravesend, a man possessed by a horrific demon, in the second issue of Englehart and Marshall Rogers' "Scorpio Rose" series. Aside from looking exactly like Mantis (with a handkerchief on her head possibly hiding antennae), Lorelei meets Gravesend at her home in Willimantic, Connecticut — the exact town where Mantis raises Sequoia during their time together on Earth. She also implies that Gravesend's demonic overlords want him to sire a child that would serve as an opponent to the Celestial Messiah.