WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, available now.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy surprised players with its vast amounts of nods and Easter eggs to every character's past. In addition to a variety of costumes to unlock, there are also artifacts that tie into Marvel's larger cosmic universe. Most of these references are found in the Collector's Emporium on Knowhere, but another exciting inclusion is the sometimes-Guardian of the Galaxy and Celestial Madonna, Mantis.
Mantis is introduced as a free spirit with the ability to see multiple potential futures at once. While most people would likely lose their mind under the immense weight of this information, Mantis takes her gifts in stride. Her character's history lines up more with her comic book iteration than with her Marvel Cinematic Universe version, but overall, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy's Mantis takes elements that make her other portrayals great and combines to create the best version of the character yet.
In the comics, Mantis is a human mutate who was raised by the Kree Priests of Pama. The saw her as the Celestial Madonna, a being who would give birth to a Celestial, or at least be tied significantly to them. As she grew, Mantis developed abilities that made her telepathic, an empath, chlorokinetic, pyrokinetic and precognitive. Most of her history is spent in the service of another much higher power, but eventually, she finds her own identity, becoming an Avengers and a Guardian of the Galaxy.
In the MCU, Mantis' story is altered. Instead of being the Celestial Madonna, she was raised by Ego and acts more insect-like than in the comics. Rather than see the future, Mantis is only an empath who can sense and manipulate others' emotions. Like her comic book counterpart, Mantis' journey is also about finding herself and her place in the galaxy. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy uses this interpretation to balance her matter-of-fact personality with the immense weight that comes with her powers.
Mantis' video game iteration is a being who has everything under control while also acting more chaotic than her teammates. When she's first introduced, it's with an infectious smile that can disarm even the meanest person. However, after a warm greeting, it's revealed that she has precognitive powers and no filter, asking Gamora, "Do you still have those suicidal urges?" Her actions mirror the youthful ignorance that makes the MCU's version of Mantis so lovable. However, her inability to hold back masks a darker truth -- it's one way Mantis copes with the knowledge she bears at all times.
Mantis only appears when she is supposed to and helps where she can. This is why she's on Pama to help the Guardians save Drax from The Promise. During their efforts to subdue him, players are also shown Mantis' exceptional martial arts skills, which are absent in the MCU. By controlling Drax, Mantis plays a significant role in leading the team to Adam Warlock and freeing Drax. However, when the Church attacks Pama, Mantis chooses to stay behind to limit any future casualties she sees. It's one of the few times that the chipper character is more somber, and that shows the true waves of emotions she feels due to her powers.
Compared to other versions of the character, Guardians' Mantis stands above and beyond her comic book and MCU portrayals by combining parts of each of them. By relying on her origin from the comics, players get to see Mantis' fighting skills and various abilities, as well as the mental strain those cause her. However, her MCU-inspired optimism allows her to approach the darkness she faces with a smile. As a result, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy perfectly showcases Mantis' complexities in a way that makes her a fan-favorite and superior iteration.
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