What's Next for Mantis in the MCU? Kang and the Celestial Madonna
Warning: SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ahead!
By the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, our favorite intergalactic team has disbanded and scattered across the cosmos. Mantis becomes the second person to leave after Peter Quill, embarking on a journey across the universe to discover who she is without her family.
Now that Mantis has left everything she knows behind, what’s next for her in the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe? We know that most of the Guardians aren’t going anywhere, with Rocket Raccoon leading a new team of heroes and Star-Lord’s return teased by Vol. 3’s post-credits scene. However, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista have confirmed their departure from the MCU, saying goodbye to Gamora and Drax (for now, at least).
Drax and Mantis have been a popular pair ever since Pom Klementieff debuted as Mantis in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But Mantis doesn’t allow Drax to accompany her on this new journey, leaving him behind on Knowhere to assist Nebula. Their goodbye at the end of Vol. 3 was heartbreaking but invigorating. Mantis turning her back on the Guardians and calling the Abilisks to her side with only a whistle was a simple but powerful moment that shows just how far she’s come.
Mantis has never been a central figure in the MCU despite playing a key supporting role among the Guardians. Her character is largely unexplored in her first few appearances, but The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special demonstrated Mantis’s potential as a lead. Her caring personality and slight awkwardness make her a relatable protagonist and her fighting skills are surprisingly excellent!
So far, Mantis’s journey has been about fitting into society and finding her place among the Guardians. She finally achieves this goal in the Holiday Special, which finally confirms that Mantis is Peter’s half-sister. Mantis becomes angry with her teammates for the first time in Vol. 3 because that need to fit in no longer exists. Without it, she realizes that it’s okay to step away from your loved ones to find out who you are without them always by your side.
Mantis, the Celestial Madonna
So who is Mantis without the Guardians of the Galaxy? That’s a question I want to see answered in a solo project. Yes, the MCU is absolutely overwhelming already thanks to the endless deluge of Disney+ series and specials. I’m hesitant to ask for another solo project considering the dozens looming on the horizon.
However, given her growth in Guardians 3 and Klementieff’s excellent performance in the Holiday Special, I think Mantis deserves a proper Guardians spin-off. I’d take a Mantis Disney+ series or special in a heartbeat, although I think a solo theatrical film is the wrong route to take.
With Mantis striking out on her own, it’s the perfect time for Marvel to bring in some of her comic backstory that’s been completely ignored in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. In the comics, Mantis is a prophesied holy being to the Cotati, a race of plant-like aliens mentioned by Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War.
Mantis is speculated to be the Celestial Madonna, a perfect human being who is intended to mate with the perfect Cotati to create the Celestial Messiah. This child would have the ability to change the universe, a power significant enough to catch the attention of beings like Kang the Conqueror.
Kang kidnaps Mantis in the comics, drawing the Avengers into a battle with a legion of undead villains. This story even features a three-way fight between Kang, Rama-Tut, and Immortus, a rivalry that’s already been teased in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s mid-credits scene. There’s plenty of Mantis material for the MCU to adapt into one of the upcoming Avengers films if a solo project isn’t in the cards yet.
Mantis’s next steps in the MCU
I’ve been waiting for a tease of Mantis’s Celestial Madonna destiny throughout the Guardians films, but there’s been no hint of her true place in the universe. Maybe that will change in the near future, though. Mantis’s power increases from movie to movie, beginning with simple emotion adjustment before she breaks out strong fighting skills and new abilities like memory manipulation in Guardians 3.
As Mantis tells Drax, she doesn’t need a protector anymore. She’s become much stronger than the Guardians realize, able to tame three Abilisks with a single touch. Remember when it took the entire team to fight just one of those aliens? Mantis can take this newfound power out into the universe at large.
She’s a unique individual in personality, ability, and even appearance since we’ve never seen another member of Mantis’s species. As she travels across alien worlds, Mantis will certainly make an impact on the communities she visits. Talk of her exploits could easily reach the Cotati or the Kree, bringing them back into the Guardians fold since their priests were involved with Mantis’s Celestial Madonna heritage in the comics.
In fact, her status as the Celestial Madonna ties back to the genocide of the Cotati and the beginning of the Kree-Skrull War in Marvel comics. With The Marvels further exploring the ramifications of that conflict, Mantis’s destiny could tie back into the cosmic side of the MCU in numerous ways.
Mantis has more story left
A potential Mantis project could play a key role in The Multiverse Saga at large due to Kang’s interest in the Celestial Messiah. However, a project in which Mantis becomes the Celestial Madonna could also live outside of the larger saga since it may be too late to tie Kang into her storyline. It would be an interesting connection to make but not a necessary one.
Regardless, it’s pretty clear that Mantis’s story isn’t over yet. Pom Klementieff has really come into her own as Mantis. It feels like the character’s journey has only just begun despite Mantis appearing in five projects across six years.
A Mantis solo project could bring her up to the level of other popular characters like Scarlet Witch, who was in a similar situation before getting the spotlight in WandaVision. A starring role in a Disney+ series where she becomes the Celestial Madonna and a key supporting role in the next Avengers films would take Mantis to heights we can only dream of.
I’ve always liked Mantis but I didn’t really care about her as an individual until the Holiday Special. So it’s surprising that her final scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 stuck with me more than anyone else’s.
I think there’s a lot more to be done with Mantis. Becoming the Celestial Madonna is a natural next step for the character and would carry on the arc James Gunn established, allowing her to find love and an individual identity outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Mantis’s ending feels the most like a new beginning, one where she can take center stage in a truly unique cosmic story and become far more powerful than we or the Guardians ever imagined.