The Marvel summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy 2 not only brought back our favorite a-holes from across the galaxy, but also introduced fans to a few new characters, such as Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russel), Ayesha of the Soveriegn (Elizabeth Debicki) and Manits (Pom Klementieff). All three of these characters have roots within the Marvel Comics, but, as Marvel is often known to do, some of these characters aren’t exact replicas of their comic book portrayals. Mantis, for instance, is much different than the comic book version, and today we have word that one of Mantis’ co-creators isn’t too happy with the changes that were made.
Mantis was created by Steve Engelehart and Don Heck, with the character making her first appearance in The Avengers #112 in June 1973. In the comics, Mantis was actually born in Vietnam, a half-Vietnamese and half-German child whose father leaves her at the Temple of the alien Priests of Pama, a sect of the Kree. Director James Gunn has stated in previous interviews that he wanted Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) to be the only main Guardians character from Earth, which is why he changed both Drax the Destroyer and Mantis to have extra-terrestrial origins. Polygon caught up with Steve Englehart, who revealed that he did enjoy the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 movie as a whole, but he wasn’t on board with the changed made to his creation.
“Well, I was not happy with Mantis’ portrayal. That character has nothing to do with Mantis. I will say that I liked the film quite a bit overall, they’re doing good stuff and I enjoyed my night at the movies so long as I turned my brain off to the fact that that’s not Mantis up there. I really don’t know why you would take a character who is as distinctive as Mantis is and do a completely different character and still call her Mantis. That I do not know.”
In the Marvel Comics, Mantis was raised by the Kree, under the belief that she could be the possible mother of their Celestial Messiah. After receiving training in martial arts, her memory is erased and she is sent out into the world after reaching adulthood, where she became a Vietnamese barmaid and a prostitute. She eventually meets Swordsman, who helps him on his redemptive arc that leads him to joining The Avengers. Mantis did also join The Avengers for a period of time, before becoming the Celestial Madonna. After some alterations by other writers in the comics, Steve Englehart returned to write Avengers: Celestial Quest in the early 2000s, which wrapped up the Celestial Messiah story. The comics writer revealed that he was a fan of Pom Klementieff’s performance, although he doesn’t think she should have even been called Mantis.
“I wasn’t impressed with what they did with Mantis but the Mantis on the screen was entertaining, I liked her but that’s not Mantis.”
Steve Englehart was also asked about Marvel’s creator compensation, in the aftermath of Rocket Raccoon creator Bill Mantlo and his family striking a deal with Marvel that allowed the writer, who has suffered permanent brain damage after a hit-and-run accident 23 years ago, to move from a nursing home to a new house next door to his brother. While he wouldn’t offer any specifics, Steve Englehart said that Marvel has always been “open-handed” about creator compentsation since Disney bought the company.
“I think Marvel’s been pretty open-handed about that sort of thing, or I should probably credit Disney for that. They’ve been good about that kind of thing, so I’m happy when it benefits the creators, not just me for myself but for anybody.”
It has been confirmed that Mantis will also return in Avengers: Infinity War, after recent set photos of the actress leaked online. Since its debut exactly two weeks ago, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has brought in $266.7 million domestically and $650.5 million worldwide, from a $200 million budget. Aside from Avengers: Infinity War, it hasn’t been confirmed if there are further plans for Mantis to return in the MCU.