Like most comic book characters, her design has changed through the years; and apparently, James Gunn had yet another look in mind when introducing the heroine into the MCU.
James Gunn's Original Design for Mantis
Marvel's MPower documentary on Disney+ included never before seen footage of MCU characters, including screen test footage of Pom Klementieff as Mantis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
This new footage revealed that Mantis was originally going to have yellow skin upon her MCU debut.
Not only is this look drastically different than how she appears in the MCU now, but yellow wasn't the only color Marvel had in mind.
According to Andy Park, Marvel Studios' Director of Visual Development, Mantis almost had green skin, just like she did later on in her comic book run.
Park explained that, in the end, Gunn "decided to simplify" Mantis' look:
“This closeup was of what Mantis almost looked like... But like Gamora, James Gunn decided to simplify their looks. Even though I would’ve loved to see both Gamora & Mantis in these ways I think he ultimately made the right decision.”
When asked on Twitter why Mantis isn't green in the films while she is in the comics, James Gunn explained (in a now-deleted tweet) that it's “Because I like her ORIGINAL look in the comics. Which is NOT green."
Why Mantis Shouldn't Be Green On-Screen
Those familiar with Marvel Comics' Guardians of the Galaxy know that Mantis isn't the only character who looks different on-screen than they do in print.
However, as Andy Park said, Gunn made "made the right decision" when it came to Mantis.
For one, Gamora already has green skin. Having two green on-screen characters could've been challenging and was likely why yellow was considered for a time.
Secondly, as James Gunn noted, Mantis wasn't always green.
In the comics, Mantis was half-Vietnamese and half-German. She was also born in Vietnam.
The fact that the comics later changed her skin to a green hue no doubt detracted from this aspect of her character.
Even though Pom Klementieff is Korean and not Vietnamese, and the MCU's Mantis is the daughter of Ego and wasn't born in Vietnam, Gunn's last-minute call to go with her natural skin tone wasn't just simpler but a fitting ode to Mantis' history in more ways than one.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is available to stream on Disney+; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives in theaters on Friday, May 5.