Earlier this week, Marvel released explosive (literally) new concept art for their upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The image featured the usual suspects, and also showed off a character who, despite a lengthy history in the comics, had yet to be introduced to the Cinematic Universe.
The image was tweeted out by illustrator Andy Park early Friday morning:https://twitter.com/andyparkart/status/753831906785931264
As you can see, Chris Pratt's Star Lord joins his teammates Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Drax (played by Dave Bautista), and a wee Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Also pictured are Nebula, played by Karen Gillan and Yondu, played by Michael Rooker, reprising their roles from the last film. There's a new character, standing behind Nebula and Star Lord, who makes her Guardians debut in this image - Mantis, an alien friend of the Guardians played by Pom Klementieff.
Executive Producer Jonathan Schwartz gave some insight into her background, saying that "everything she learns about dealing with people, she learns from the Guardians of the Galaxy", which are an odd group of people from which to learn social skills, but I guess there's a diverse enough group there to make her lessons varied at least.
Most comic book movies take a few liberties with their characters, drawing on the spirit or the roots of a particular character while adding in other elements to satisfy the general movie-going audience, so it's hard to tell exactly what type of character Mantis will be. She has been a part of Marvel comics for over forty years, so it's safe to bet at least a bit of her comics history will make its way into the film.
Mantis was a member of the Avengers, having proved herself after helping Scarlet Witch fend off attackers. She's a martial artist, with a variety of psychic abilities that seem to change depending on the needs of the writer at the time. She's exceptionally empathetic, telepathic, and in some cases, could see into the future. In addition to being a key member of the Avengers for a number of years, Mantis was also a part of the West Coast Avengers (which is exactly what it sounds like...the Avengers, on the west coast).
Her most famous encounter with the Guardians of the Galaxy came when Star Lord freed her from the Kree. After her escape, she helped the Guardians stay close as a team, using her power of empathy to counsel the team during times of strife.
While it's hard to tell exactly what parts of her history the movie will retain, and which it will reinvent, it's probably safe to say that she won't be a human nor will she have ties to the Avengers. It is, however, very likely that she'll retain some of the same powers and abilities she had in the comics, especially her strong martial arts and her telepathy.
Schwartz also spoke of Groot's characterization in this film. Fans of the series will remember that in the last movie he seemingly sacrificed himself to save his teammates, with only a small twig remaining. This tiny part of Groot was nurtured, and has grown into the Groot moviegoers will see in the second volume. Schwartz called him a "younger Groot, and a more rambunctious Groot" lacking the "wisdom and experience" of the Groot we came to love in the first volume. He teased that the character may be entirely different, asking "is he the same Groot, just smaller? Or is he a different Groot that's sprung up from the seed of the first?"
All our questions (or at least most of them, we hope) will be answered when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits movie theatres on May 5, 2017.