It’s easy to see what she’s talking about: the MCU has plenty of female superheroes at this point, but a lot of them (especially before “Vol. 2” came out) tend to follow a familiar archetype. Characters like Hope Van Dyne, Gamora, and Black Widow all have a similarly stoic, hyper-competent vibe to them; meanwhile, Mantis is a lot more childlike, a lot more socially awkward, and she doesn’t seem to feel the need to put on any tough exterior. In a series filled with characters who hide their true feelings under five different layers of irony, someone like Mantis is a breath of fresh air. Everyone else runs from their emotions, but emotions are Mantis’ biggest strength.
Admittedly, Mantis’ integration into the Guardians isn’t completely seamless: for one thing, “Vol. 2” leans a little too hard on treating her like a punching bag. It’s nowhere as extreme as the way “Family Guy” used to treat Meg, but the comparison definitely comes to mind when we hear Drax call her ugly for the fifth time, or when Drax yells at her to “look out!” right after she gets cartoonishly smacked in the head by a flying boulder. But in some ways, this is part of her charm: the movie never tries to make her look like a typical badass superhero, which only makes her quiet inner strength shine brighter.
Either way, the series has largely moved past its more mean-spirited tendencies with Mantis. Going into “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” she’s more confident than she’s ever been, and she’s long been treated by the other Guardians as just another valued member of the team.
Of course, she still hasn’t lost her funny, awkward, earnest qualities, and it sounds like Klementieff wouldn’t have it any other way.