Guardians of the Galaxy's Pom Klementieff reveals the glue that keeps them together
"She's an empath", explained Klementieff of Mantis' powers.
"I got to be super weird [as Mantis], which is really fun to do," laughed Pom Klementieff at a press conference for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
The French actress first played Mantis, an empath in the service of Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2's villain, Ego, in 2017, and has since reprised the role several times. She joined the eponymous Guardians of the Galaxy in that movie, and has since been part of the team since her appearance.
"She's an empath", explained Klementieff of Mantis' powers. "So you have to have a deeper connection with everything and everyone. So it's beautiful to tap in and [create] deep, profound, and layered emotions."
And her ability to resonate with (and implant) emotions in others is what makes her the emotional core of the Guardians of the Galaxy. "James [told] me that Mantis was the glue that kept the Guardians together."
"I think it's beautiful," reflected Klementieff. "The world lacks a lot of empathy, you know? So it's a beautiful message."
"I think it's also cool to have somebody who is, their super power is empathy. It is feelings," agreed director James Gunn. "She comes in with emotions and is equally or if not more powerful than [other, more physical heroes]. She was the one who almost took down Thanos, you know?"
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And Mantis might have succeeded in the feat in Avengers: Infinity War, if not for the meddling of Peter Quill. Then again, if she had defeated Thanos, we wouldn't have gotten Avengers: Endgame.
But it may surprise you to know that the Mantis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is very different than the Mantis of Marvel Comics.
In the comics, Mantis has a bevy of super powers and was destined to become the Celestial Madonna, who would bear the Celestial Messiah of the universe [the "Celestial" here is a descriptor, rather than referring to the "Celestial" race of giant gods]. While she eventually fulfilled that... purpose, the storyline petered out and Mantis become more of a supporting character in stories.
"I think it was so interesting to give a different take on a female character," said Kelementieff of the change. "In the comic books, she was great. She was very powerful. But she was kind of similar to a lot of other female characters in the Marvel universe or in other superhero movies."
Of course, there's always a danger in changing too much of a character that originated in the comics. Fans who have been steeped in the lore of the comics may be unhappy with the changes made to their favourite characters. So how did the producers feel when going in this direction?
"It always makes me nervous," said Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios. "But the goal has always been to do justice to the audience members who have loved these characters their whole lives and to audience members who've never heard of these characters."
With that being said, Feige had nothing but praise for Gunn and his knowledge of the lore.
"People don't really know the Guardians, so you really have a lot of leeway to do new things," Feige had said to Gunn. "But James was constantly going to the comics and constantly referring to the comics and constantly building off the storylines. So people who did know these characters saw things they could get excited about."
"Just as important, people who never heard of this crazy spaceman with a tree and a raccoon [could also get excited about it]."
But ultimately, creating Guardians of the Galaxy stemmed from a place of what the world needed.
"The world kind of needed a space fantasy that was very different from the ones we had seen before," revealed Gunn on his motivations.
"So I was very pleasantly surprised when my greatest hopes did come true."
Mantis will appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which is also directed by James Gunn. The third movie of the titular trilogy sees the Guardians of the Galaxy going on a quest to find out more about Rocket's origins, even as an insidious threat arises. It will star Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillian, Pom Klementieff, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, and Sean Gunn. It will also feature the voice talents of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be out in cinemas 4th May.
Watch the previous Guardians of the Galaxy films on Disney+:
Watch Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 1 Watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2