The Guardians of the Galaxy films have always taken a lot of liberty when adapting the relatively obscure cosmic characters onto the cinema screen, so when it came to introducing Mantis in Vol. 2, the production team had a free hand to come up with a character for actress Pom Klementieff that was as far removed from the original as they wanted.
Mantis ended up being quite human in appearance, with only really her dark eyes and antennae marking her out as an insectoid alien. This unused piece of concept art pitches a completely different version of the newest Guardian, however, who sports a much more extraterrestrial appearance.
The artwork was shared by Andy Park, the director of Marvel Studios’ Visual Development, and his caption for the image revealed an intriguing detail – that this was initially planned to be the final design of the character.
“I got called out by
@osiristheory to show one of my favorite UNUSED concept art pieces… hmm, tough one. This was actually the APPROVED design of Mantis for #GuardiansoftheGalaxy Vol.2 but as it happens sometimes it changed during the practical FX stage. So thus, UNUSED :)”
This is a truly beautiful character design and some fans will likely mourn the fact that it was ditched late in the day. That being said, you can see why it was changed, as the more human appearance probably allowed Pom Klementieff to give a more natural performance. Plus, it probably reduced the amount of time she had to spend in the make-up chair every morning. It wasn’t a chore, then, when the character returned in Infinity War to kick names and take ass with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Fellow Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan might have revealed that Mantis will be back in Avengers 4, too, confirming what we’d all guessed – that the Guardians will be resurrected after turning to dust as a consequence of Thanos’ Snap. As for whether Mantis will get to return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, well, everything about that movie is up in the air right now, so it’s hard to say. But as soon as we hear more, we’ll be sure to let you know.