Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a lot of challenges going in: the sequel had to be at least as good as the revolutionary original movie, as well as pushing the plot along and delivering everything we wanted to see, from Peter's father to Nebula and Gamora reconciling. And somehow, magically, James Gunn not only achieved all this, he also did something no other Marvel filmmaker has ever done — introducing the first #LGBT character to Marvel's movies. Probably.
Unlike other movies that made way too big a deal about their apparently queer characters before the film was even released — setting fans up for disappointment when the characters' sexualities were hidden in subtext (Star Trek: Beyond, Beauty and the Beast, and Power Rangers, I'm looking at you) — James Gunn did make it clear that whoever the LGBT character was, it would be subtle. Here's his response when DigitalSpy asked about whether he would introduce a gay superhero in Guardians 3:
"Absolutely. I would love to be able to. We might have already done that [in Vol. 2]. I say watch the movie. Check it out. See what you think."
Well, having checked it out, here's what I think.
Mantis Is (Probably) Gay
The moment, like Gunn implied, is subtle, but to me Mantis' meaning was very obvious.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, one of the most compelling relationships is between Mantis and Drax. Both socially awkward and strangely literal, the duo immediately form a strong bond — a bond which Drax makes very clear isn't romantic. This comes to a head when a fearful Mantis bursts in on Drax while he's sleeping, waking him up in urgency. Drax quickly tells her that he has no interest in her sexually as he finds her repulsive. And then comes the nod to Mantis' sexuality:
"I'm not even attracted to the type of thing you are!"
Mantis says she doesn't find Drax's "type of thing" attractive at all, which certainly has interesting implications. Granted, this could be a species thing. But throughout the movie plenty of interspecies couplings are demonstrated, and it would seem that in this diverse galaxy, people are very open to getting down and dirty with strange new life.
So although this is a very subtle statement, to me Mantis' words scream that she's gay. Especially when we take into account that a slight rewording of her statement would be "you're just not my type" — which has often been used in media to reveal a character's homosexuality.
Of course, until this is confirmed we can't actually say for sure what Mantis' statement meant. I was holding out hope that one of the five credits scenes would show Mantis rocking up with a girlfriend in some humorous moment, but alas this didn't happen. And honestly, I'm not surprised — considering how quickly Marvel shot down hopes that Black Panther would confirm that its comic-canon lesbian character is gay in the movie too, it seems that the studio isn't quite ready yet to embrace a queer superhero on the big screen.
Marvel v LGBT: Read On For More
- Marvel Shoots Down Lesbian Character In 'Black Panther'
- Marvel Chief Blames Bad Comic Sales On Diversity
- Why Won't Marvel Add LGBT Superheroes To The MCU?
So what does this mean for Mantis? Well, it all depends on what Marvel wants. Gunn's initial comment was very interesting because he said he would love to "be able to" introduce a gay character. This certainly suggests that there's something stopping him — Gunn wants to do this but he might not be able to because Marvel ultimately have the final say on stuff like this.
For now though, the implication has been set up that Mantis isn't interested in men — the "type of thing" that Drax is — and I for one would be delighted if Mantis is the gay superhero we've been waiting for. Or hey, maybe she's asexual, and not attracted to any type of person. That would be good too.
Mantis is sweet, courageous, and a delightful addition to the #GuardiansoftheGalaxy. She's sure to play a big role in the MCU going forward, as her empathic abilities were proved to be very powerful in a fight. Needless to say, if Mantis were gay (or ace) she would be a very inspirational character to provide representation for a group of people who, so far, have been almost entirely ignored by the MCU. Fingers crossed for Guardians Vol. 3!
Tell us in the comments: Who was your favorite new character in Guardians Vol. 2?