Steve Englehart (Avengers, The Defenders) is one of my favorite veteran comic book writers, and his immortal runs on Doctor Strange and Fantastic Four in the '70s and '80s are must-read opportunities to absorb some of the best stories ever captured in comics, steeped in history, mythology, philosophy and maybe a flashback remnant or two left over from a few acid trips in the late '60s.
Besides his provocative work for Marvel as a writer, Englehart also co-created the character of Mantis with artist Don Heck for 1973's Avengers #112, with the empath portrayed as a butt-kicking "Celestial Madonna" who would hopefully birth one of the galaxy's greatest beings. James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 includes a buggy-looking Mantis as Ego's caregiver, played by Pom Klementieff, but she's given a much different demeanor than the superhero brought to life by Englehart and Heck 44 years ago.
Apparently Englehart has seen Guardians Vol. 2 and does not dig Gunn's version of the character at all. In a recent chat with Polygon, the writer expressed his dislike of Mantis on screen and is not mincing words about it:
“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. I liked her, but that’s not Mantis."”
This 180-degree turn from her original presentation as a German/Vietnamese human who was trained in martial arts by a Kree cult and groomed to be the mother of their Messiah. Obviously the meek, soft-spoken interpretation as a lime-green alien with saucer eyes and a pair of insectoid feelers did not sit well with Englehart, but characters in the comics realm are constantly being changed or resurrected and he'll just have to cash his royalty check and be content with that. The filmmaking process is always taking liberties in its adaptations, and this is a minor one.
Were you distracted by the zen-like, sensitive nature of Mantis in Guardians 2, or were you unaware of her heritage in the first place?