It’s likely going to take an epic team-up of heavy-hitters to defeat Thanos come time for Avengers 4. For instance, in Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity, a comic that Infinity War draws heavily from, it takes a combo of Thor, Captain Marvel, Captain America, and a high-powered character named Hyperion to attack Thanos, and even then they barely make it. We know Thor and Captain Marvel will be in Avengers 4, but Hyperion is out and Steve frankly wasn’t looking too hot in his fight against the Mad Titan this last time around. So let’s talk wild theories: is there anyone else currently in the MCU who can fight at a comparable level to Thor? I’d argue yes, and Thanos’ snap may have just awakened her.
I am referring to Mantis. Yes, I said Mantis: the awkward, bug-like Guardian who induces sleep. Film Mantis is vastly different from comics Mantis, who has a history of being able to take on several Avengers and even Thanos alone. The portrayals are so different that Steve Englehart, Mantis’ original creator, disavows the film version entirely. “That character has nothing to do with Mantis,” Englehart told Polygon. “I really don’t know why you would take a character who is as distinctive as Mantis is and do a completely different character.”
In the comics Mantis is known as the “celestial madonna,” the mother to the “celestial messiah”—a half-human, half-Cotati. When it comes to female characters and motherhood, the comics can get very weird, so it’s probably fine that the films left that detail out. Comics Mantis is a powerful character, though, and one who could’ve been more useful than film Mantis, who got knocked out and rescued in both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Infinity War.
Mantis is first introduced in the comics as a highly skilled martial artist, and after giving birth to the celestial messiah, she also gains a bevy of powers: telepathy, energy blasts, and the ability to project herself across the astral plane and regenerate from plant life. Because of her status as the madonna and her connection to the Cotati, she becomes known as the “goddess of life," signified visually by her skin turning green. By the time she rejoins the Avengers, she’s practically an indestructible tank; at one point she’s caught in an explosion, and instead of dying her essence just breaks apart.
Eventually these pieces coalesce into five separate Mantises, each acting as a different aspect of the real Mantis’ personality. The key here is that in Englehart’s Celestial Quest run, these Mantises are targeted by Thanos, who aims to destroy the goddess of life forever and cement himself as the true god of death. He admits within the comic that he struggles to defeat her when she’s at full strength, and that’s why he first targets her copies, and then later her more vulnerable son.
Thanos misunderstands the copies though; while he seems to think killing them would destroy Mantis entirely, instead he just hastens the real Mantis’ return, as the essence of each becomes a part of and strengthens the remaining copies. Eventually, the last copy is destroyed and the goddess of life is revived in all her over-powered glory.
While the films aren’t required to religiously follow the source material, this could be an interesting way of explaining why film Mantis is so different from Englehart’s creation. The eccentric character that was dusted away wasn’t really Mantis at all, but just one of her copies. The copies don’t actually fully realize what they are, which could explain why Mantis only knows of her life with Ego. There’s even a copy in the comics that’s the “freak” aspect of her personality, and the movies certainly emphasize how strange Mantis is.
While Avengers 4 is likely to just hop back in time to fix all the deaths, it’d be interesting to see Mantis revive as a new iteration: more powerful, more in line with her comic self, and ready to kick ass. Sure, it’s an out-there theory. But it would be one way for the movies to pay tribute to a comics creator, while also ensuring that Thanos is set for a complete and utter beatdown. Really, after all the tears we’ve shed, who can complain about that?
Will Mantis take a surprise turn in Avengers 4? Sound off in the comments!
Images: Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios