a friend of mine reached out to talk to me about mantis in guardians 2... and i was already on the fence about writing about it so ultimately i decided to just write this lil spoiler-filled thing for those of you who were wondering about my guardians feelings, which do mostly involve the treatment of mantis.
"people care what i think. i have a prestigious blog, sir." anyway...
i like watching the guardians movies because they're always fun and i enjoy the soundtrack and obviously my child baby groot was the star of this one, so i had to see it.
i wasn't expecting much from it politically. marvel has the trashiest trash politics of all-time (making captain freaking america himself AND holocaust survivor magneto nazis, letting joss whedon near female characters, blaming diversity for the decline in sales which is obviously bs because, for example, the fate of the furious made the most money ever and it barely has any white people in it, the list goes on...). so, that being said, here i am again, talking shit about marvel.
mantis is cool as hell. one of many criticisms floating around about nerd movies is how they never let characters who are people of color look like themselves (sofia and idris in star trek beyond, gamora in guardians, lupita in star wars although lupita said she was okay with it, etc.), so it was refreshing to see mantis look like her korean self instead of like the green character she is in the comics. her black eyes felt like an homage to lwaxana troi and the empaths of betazed, so i was also excited about that. and! she saved the freaking day because she truly is *that* powerful, powerful enough to put this super strong god to sleep. mantis rules and was one of the best parts of this entire movie. but still, she deserved better.
marvel seems to always take one step forward and two steps back. mantis was ego's servant, he used fear to intimidate her into servitude and keep her close to him. she says herself that her purpose is to put him to sleep. her character felt similar to kyoko from ex machina (trope much?), an asian woman kept as a prisoner to serve a man, with her powers and abilities rendered insignificant until she sees an opportunity to overpower the man. although, mantis actually escaped. kyoko was left behind. mantis is much, much more powerful than she believes herself to be, which undoubtedly was due to ego belittling her and making her feel weak and powerless. which is something men do to women constantly. i feel for her. her story revolved around a man.
so, the other issue i had was with her relationship with drax. there is a lot of nuance to drax's character and he's definitely unique and i'm sure he's difficult to write. but, marvel is lazy. so they went back to very adolescent "he's mean to you because he likes you!" bullshit and it sucked to see. because, sure there's nuance to his character. but also, think about it- mantis is played by an asian woman. she's one of very few women in the movie at all, and she's the only woman of color in a long list of movies who actually gets to look slightly like herself. so to take this character in particular and repeatedly call her ugly and disgusting and have him gag at her... it was damaging and unnecessary. imagine little girls who look like pom klementieff and who are perhaps too young to get the nuance going to see guardians and seeing themselves repeatedly called ugly and disgusting. it was just unnecessary and shitty. period. if the writers weren't lazy as hell, they could've written a relationship between drax and mantis that didn't involve this man who's helping her escape the man who kept her prisoner *also* belittling her and making her feel bad about herself. but, i'm just a writer, what would i possibly know about writing relationships between characters....
the last thing i wanna talk about with regards to mantis is just how... the way her character was portrayed felt like a dude writer going, "what if we took a woman and all her dumb girl feelings but like, made her have SUPER FEELINGS?" because in the comics, mantis can do all kinds of stuff (hopefully they will showcase her powers in upcoming movies but it is marvel so...) but in this, all we really got to see was her having feelings and giving naps to gods. so it felt... weird and gross. i mentioned betazed before and i think empaths are cool as hell, but, again, mantis was written lazily.
um... admittedly, gamora isn't my favorite (less because of anything to do with her actual character and more because of these lazy ass guardians writers) but i was glad to see that she got to have an actual relationship with nebula. sidenote- i thought nebula was rachel leigh cook this entire time. like, since the first movie. i never even looked it up because i was so sure it was her. surprise! it's not. but yeah, i love that they were hugging and that gamora apologized. very sweet.
overall... guardians was fun. but i just truly wish the writers were better. the only thing they got really right was groot.
thank u for reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @marvel hire me!!!!