Regarding Mantis and her character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, her origin story is vastly different from the Marvel Comics. First of all, she is much more powerful than her Earth-199999 counterpart and member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and she originates from Earth. While MCU Mantis is a cool character, her comic book version was once regarded as the “perfect human being,” also known as Celestial Madonna. As you can see, this title has similarities to Christianity and is connected to the current biggest threat in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kang the Conqueror. Let’s find out why.
In the 1970s, specifically during the Avengers comic book run, a Kree religious sect (Priests of Pama) believed that the child of the Celestial Madonna would be their savior. At first, Moondragon thought she was the Celestial Madonna, but it was later revealed that Mantis is actually the “chosen one.” She eventually accepted her “fate” and married the Eldest Cotati (race of telepathic, sentient plants), after which she gave birth to her son Sequoia, who was destined to become a Celestial Messiah.
There are a few variations of Celestial Madonna in Marvel Comics, and we will mention both of them and explain how Mantis became the so-called “perfect being,” or as I liked to call her, the Marvel Comics version of Virgin Mary. If you are interested, stay with us until the end.
What is Celestial Madonna in Marvel Comics?
There are variations of the Celestial Madonna in Marvel Comics. One that has nothing to do with Mantis is a member of Celestials, the multiverse space gods, who arrive on Earth in 114 AD. Specifically, she arrives pregnant in China, where she is looking for ways to give birth to her child – she chooses between Earth, Moon, or Sun and eventually picks the star.
The creature bathed herself in the star and got destroyed during the labor of her progeny, which Leonard da Vinci discovered in 1956. This storyline was featured in S.H.I.E.L.D. comic book run from 2010. Leonardo da Vinci’s character in the 20th century isn’t the most strange thing that happened in the comics, but besides the “blast from the past,” we got another real-life reference, this time that relates to Christianity.
Religious aspects in the comics aren’t odd at all, and various sects and other species in the Multiverse have different deities they worship. Essentially, the Celestial Madonna phrase reminds us of another Madonna from the Christian religion, the Virgin Mary or St. Mary, who gave birth to the world’s savior, Jesus Christ.
Avengers comic book run from the 1960s, specifically issue #123, released in 1974, see the fresh new character, Mantis, being addressed as Celestial Madonna. She is supposed to be a perfect being, a mother to a perfect child that will rule the universe one day.
She is the “chosen one” from the gods, a perfect woman who will help the birth of the savior. Do you see the similarities with Virgin Mary? Yep, Mantis was considered a perfect woman, and boy, does her storyline as the Celestial Madonna gets complicated… you have no idea. However, we will try to make it easier to understand.
Mantis is established as Celestial Madonna in Avengers comic book run from the 1960s
We already mentioned that Mantis has an interesting origin story in Marvel Comics. She was originally born to Gustav Brandt and Lua Nguyen in Vietnam, and as a young girl, she was trained by alien Priests of Pama. This Kree religious sect eventually started to believe that Mantis would become the Celestial Madonna.
Mantis was a perfect child – she excelled in martial arts, which did give her the name Mantis. The Priests of Pama believed that Mantis would give birth to the savior of the world, which prompted them to “mess” with her head to forget her past.
This leads Mantis to think she is an orphan from Ho Chi Minh City, where she eventually starts working as a barmaid and meets her lover, The Swordsman.
At that point, Swordsman was a criminal, and his girlfriend begged him to leave the bad life behind him. This leads to the couple going to New York and Mantis helping Swordsman to join Avengers. Swordsman eventually gets reinvited to Avengers, but Mantis’ psychic powers from Kree priests, are useful for the team, which leads to her helping the superheroes in the war against the Defenders and Thanos.
Mantis eventually realizes her whole life was a lie and returns to Vietnam, to the temple where the priests raised her. She finds them dead but strange aura as well. However, her journey doesn’t start there, we see another great villain of Marvel Comics, Kang the Conqueror. Now, his mission is simple – find Celestial Madonna to give birth to his child, that will eventually become the “ruler of the future.”
In the meantime, Mantis’ feelings for Swordsman fade away, and we see the moment she takes a liking to Vision. Interestingly enough, Kang first tries to kill her, but Swordsman’s sacrifice prevents Mantis’ death.
Kang has a change of heart, proceeds to capture the Avengers in limbo, and sends the Legion of Death to kill all except Mantis, whom she wants to impregnate with his child.
Immortus, another version of Kang, saves Mantis and the Avengers, and she is shown her true past. The Priests of Pama raised Mantis to become a Celestial Madonna, the savior’s mother. When she arrives at the temple, she realizes they buried Swordsman’s body in the place where the Elder Cotati lived, which possessed her former lover’s dead body. The Cotati are essentially the ones Priests protected from evil.
She accepts her fate as the Celestial Madonna marries Elder Cotati, who possesses Swordsman’s body, and she mates with her new husband. Eventually, Mantis gave birth to the child, but when the Cotati took it from her, she abandoned her body – her spirit went to space for a new journey.
Basically, this is what Celestial Madonna is all about – Mantis was chosen to carry a child of the future ruler of the world, raised as a perfect woman. Of course, she gained some new powers and even “smacked” Thanos in the face to protect her son.
Honestly, this whole storyline was a rollercoaster, and it might take a few reads to understand what is happening. The point is that Mantis is the chosen one who gave birth to the prodigal son, who will eventually rule the galaxies. She was essentially a Virgin Mary, without the prefix, which only confirms many real-life inspirations to these comics.
Moondragon was also trained on Titan to become the Celestial Madonna, but she was never “a perfect woman,” while Shanna the She-Devil, the Jungle Princess, was another candidate for the spot. Old storylines in Marvel Comics are confusing, and one needs to really focus. However, this particular storyline is the most important for Mantis and one of the better Kang the Conqueror stories. If you have time, check out these old Avengers from the 1960s.