|“||Fear the bug!||”|
|—Mantis, Kung Fu Panda 2|
Master Mantis is one of the supporting characters of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. He is a member of the Furious Five as well as one of Master Shifu's students at the Jade Palace. He is a master of the Mantis Style of kung fu.
A warrior from an early age, Mantis had a fast-paced attitude that led him into trouble when he was captured by the Wool Stealing Crocodile Bandits. Forced to stay still for many days, he learned the patience needed to free himself. After learning this kung fu discipline, he eventually came to form the Furious Five with Tigress, Monkey, Viper, and Crane. Upon meeting Po, he made light of the panda being the Dragon Warrior, but was one of the first to relate to him. He now fights alongside Po as a friend and ally.
Po told his kung fu class of rabbit children how Mantis was impatient when he was younger. Mantis felt that the world was too slow for him and he was too fast for the world. However, on a mission to retrieve wool coats back from a gang of crocodile bandits, he was captured due to his overconfidence and lack of listening skills when one of the villagers tried to warn him of the bandits' traps. Mantis was locked in a cage for days and forced to sit and wait for something to happen, and he entered a trance that allowed him to survey the world moving faster than he did. This allowed him to develop the patience needed to devise a plan of escape, playing dead to trick the crocodiles into opening his cage and defeating them.
Although it is unknown how, eventually Mantis came to the Jade Palace and joined up with students Tigress, Monkey, Viper, and Crane under the instruction of Master Shifu. They all trained together for years before they eventually formed together to became the new Furious Five.
Mantis makes his first appearance in the training courtyard with Master Shifu and the rest of his team. He then later partook in the Dragon Warrior Tournament, though his performance was not seen. After Master Oogway suddenly sensed that the Dragon Warrior was among them, Mantis and the rest of the Five gathered in a line to prepare for Oogway's selection. Just as it appeared that Tigress was about to be chosen, Mantis, along with the others, was astonished when a panda named Po landed right in front of her. He was even more astonished when Oogway, inspired by this unexpected occurrence, proclaimed Po as the Dragon Warrior.
After the tournament, Mantis and the other Five went over to the Training Hall, where Mantis was seen training in the Gauntlet of Wooden Warriors. When Po and Shifu finally arrived, he appeared less than impressed when Po commented on his similar size of his action figure . Mantis then watched as Po sparred with the adversary, and was subsequently knocked into the training course where he failed each and every single course, including the Wooden Warriors.
That night, Mantis partook in making fun of Po along with his comrades while traveling up to the student barracks, unaware that Po was right behind them and could hear everything. The next day, when it appeared that Po had quit, they enter the training courtyard and found that he had gotten up and started training early, getting stuck in the process. As Po's training continued that day, most of the Furious Five sparred with Po, Mantis being the last before Shifu decided to spar with the panda himself. Mantis and Monkey looked at each other nervously as Shifu proclaimed this. He then watched as Shifu flung Po around before literally kicking him out of the palace and down the steps. It was at this point that Mantis and the other Five (sans Tigress) began to notice Po's determination and started to have some respect for him (though it didn't stop him from mocking Po's bouncing, earning him a reprimand from Viper).
Once Po made his way back to the Palace, Mantis and Viper attempted to help him recover through means of acupuncture. However, Po's bulk made finding the right nerve points difficult, thus Mantis caused Po even more pain each time he stuck a needle in his back. The three eventually started up a conversation, commenting on Shifu's harsh way of treating Po. Eventually Tigress joined their conversation and told the story of Tai Lung while Mantis continued to apply more needles to Po's back. At the very end, he accidentally slipped up one needle and triggered Po's facial nerve, temporarily paralyzing him and stopping his heart.
Later that night, Mantis and the others all have dinner together in the barracks kitchen. Po served his noodle soup to the Five (excluding Tigress), and Mantis took an extreme liking to it. He also laughed along with the others (again, excluding Tigress) when Po did an impression of Master Shifu. But when the master eventually showed up in the middle of Po's impression, Mantis immediately stopped laughing. He was shocked with all the others upon hearing Shifu's announcement of Oogway's passing and Tai Lung's breakout, and stuck by Tigress' side when she insisted they handled Tai Lung themselves. Later that night, after Shifu outlawed their request, Mantis and the others followed Tigress out of the Palace that night and joined together to find and stop Tai Lung.
After days of traveling, Mantis and the others finally located Tai Lung on the Thread of Hope just outside the Valley. A long battle ensues, each of the Five using incredible skill and prowess to fight the snow leopard. Mantis assisted by using his incredible strength to hold up the falling bridge while the other four and Tai Lung continued to battle. But when it seemed like they had won, Tai Lung reappears again and performs a chi block on four of the Five (Mantis included) — only sparing Crane so he was able to carry the rest of them back to the Palace in means of a message.
Shifu and Po had just finished another day's worth of extensive training when they finally returned, Crane exhausted and the others paralyzed. The Five each told about their grieving experience, which placed doubt into Po when he realized that not even his idols, let alone five kung fu masters, could stop Tai Lung. But Shifu still believed he could defeat him, and they all went to the Hall of Warriors in the Jade Palace to retrieve the Dragon Scroll for Po. Shifu, Mantis, and the other Five watched as Po opened the scroll, and appeared just as confused when he said it was blank. Believing nothing else could be done, Shifu offered to stay behind to hold back Tai Lung while they and the rest of the Valley escape. Master and students shared a final respectful bow, knowing that Tai Lung may very well kill him.
While Po went to find his father, Mantis and the other Five assisted in evacuating the Valley. Mantis was tasked with gathering the northern farmer, to which he did so before moving out with the others. They were all just about out of the Valley when a large golden gust pulsed and blew past them. The Five and the other villagers returned to investigate and found Po victorious in his battle with Tai Lung. Marveling at the panda's skill that enabled him to do what they could not, Tigress led Mantis and the others of the Five (as well as the villagers) in a respectful bow to Po as a kung fu master.
Mantis, along with the rest of the Furious Five, was surprised when informed by Po in the middle of an attack by boar bandits that he was to host the sophisticated Winter Feast at the Jade Palace. The Five offered their help in preparing for the event, but Po believed he could do it without any assistance. However, when the burden of tending to all of the preparations eventually proved too much, Po finally asked the Furious Five for help. Like the rest of his comrades, Mantis used kung fu to set up the dinner, making use of his "Pinwheel Attack" in arranging plates for the feast.
When all the tasks were done, Mantis was present with all the other kung fu masters for the Winter Feast, but Po ended up excusing himself from the event, explaining his own family traditions, and he left to go to the Noodle Shop to be with his father on the holiday. The Five later joined Po, as do the other Masters from the Palace, and Mantis took part in the festivities, having a bowl of noodle soup and making a rabbit child laugh with a game of peek-a-boo. Mantis then joined in a group portrait with the rest of the Furious Five, Po, Mr. Ping, Shifu, and Wo Hop.
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"The Art of Balance"Mantis appears at the start along with the Furious Five in Po 's dream. He and Crane were in the middle of taunting the enemies they faced when Po suddenly appeared and landed on top of the Five, ruining the heroic moment. Mantis then partook in a fierce battle before Po woke up from his dream.
"The Dragon Chef"
Po asked Mantis and the Furious Five to help around the restaurant as his father was suffering from the "Goose Flu". They accepted, despite being unnerved by the hostile customers. But while trying to help, Mantis became stuck in a sticky bowl of noodle soup, and the the Five's attempts soon ended in disaster. When Mr. Ping returned, however, he fixed the situation in no time. Deeply impressed, Mantis and his comrades praised Mr Ping as the "Dragon Chef".
"Touch of Destiny"
The Five were playing a game of "Elimination Tag". After Monkey tagged Viper, Mantis surprised Monkey by sneaking on back and tagging him. Once he tagged him, Mantis flew away on a leaf. He landed on the ground, where Po tagged him by jumping on him. After Tigress tagged Po, Mantis and the others regrouped as the panda suggested they play another game of tag.
The smallest member of the Furious Five with the biggest voice, Mantis always manages to surprise his opponents with his kung fu prowess. His attacks are too fast to be seen and his rapid fire hits to pressure points can make the biggest villain fall. While Mantis' big mouth can sometimes get him into trouble, his kung fu mastery can always get him out.
In the episode "Sticky Situation", Mantis had recently broken up with his girlfriend, who was originally a caterpillar before becoming a butterfly. Mantis felt like he didn't know her because of the change, and he was distraught about it for the majority of the episode. The two got back together at the end of the episode.
In "Hometown Hero", Mantis received an urgent letter from his ex-fiancée Hao Ming, and decided to depart to his home village to help her, however he refused to allow his friends to come along. Shifu decided to send Po to secretly keep an eye on Mantis in case anything went wrong, however Mantis soon discovered Po and demanded that he return to the Jade Palace, but Po convinced him otherwise. Mantis then tried to inform Po of the reasons for his secrecy, that his fiancée left him at the altar before they were to be married, and that in order to get back at her, he told her and his hometown that he was the Dragon Warrior.
Po then decided to play along, and took on the role as Mantis' foolish sidekick, but their plans went awry when Hao Ming confessed to still loving Mantis and wanting to be with him again, to which Mantis happily complied. It was also revealed that she had just broken up with her current fiancée, Dosu, and he and his sidekick sought revenge against Mantis. They challenged him to a match, however, Mantis was too distracted by his reignited romance with Hao Ming to participate, leaving Po to suffer the wrath of Hao Ming's ex. After several of Mantis' broken promises that ended in Po getting beat up, Po told him he was fed up with trying to help him. Mantis then revealed that he and Hao were going to get married.
But Po soon left, tired of being injured and trying to help his friend, and on his way back he accidentally revealed his identity, which Dosu overheard. Both he and Po rushed and attempted to stop the wedding. Once he arrived, Dosu was stalled by Po as the two exchanged vows, but eventually Mantis intervened, and he and Dosu battled each other over Hao Ming. Dosu was eventually defeated. though he still revealed that Mantis wasn't the Dragon Warrior, and Mantis then confessed to everyone that Po was the real Dragon Warrior, to which Hao Ming quickly called off the wedding and rejected Mantis, with Mantis saying she wasn't worthy of him. Mantis and Po then reconciled, and return Mantis offered to carry Po home because of his injuries, managing to do so with some difficulty.
In "Huge", Mantis complains about his body size when he fails to stop the Croc bandits from robbing Ying's grocery store. Mantis drinks the Gong Tau to enlarge himself, never knowing it would have consequences.
In the sequel, Mantis and the rest of the Furious Five were witness to Po breaking a new record of how many bean buns he can stuff in his mouth, which reached about forty. Soon after, Po and the Five were called to fight off wolf bandits attacking an Artisan Village. Mantis carried around a liuqin-playing bunny sitting on a stone, knocking out wolves, before quickly slicing apart the dual swords of another wolf. Mantis then leaped to Po's defense by kicking a number of metal pans to deflect a number of arrows fired at him. The fight ended when Po accidentally got distracted and as a result was hit by the Boss Wolf, who escaped, with the panda offering no explanation for freezing in battle.
The next day, Shifu received a message from Gongmen City that Lord Shen had returned, with a new weapon that "breathes fire and spits metal", which had killed Master Thundering Rhino of the Kung Fu Council, and now threatened the entire kung fu tradition. Po and the Five journeyed to Gongmen City to confront Shen and destroy his weapon. While traveling by sea, everyone overheard Po and Tigress talking, which Viper interpreted as Po having "daddy issues". Mantis wistfully commented that he never got to know his father, because his mother ate his father's head before he was born. Viper reminded Mantis that the issue wasn't about him. As Po tried defending that he was okay, they had just arrived at Gongmen City.
While Po was half of mind to storm the Tower of the Sacred Flame, Mantis restrained him, pointing out that Shen's wolves had already taken control of the city. The warriors then attempted to get to their target by stealthily scaling the rooftops. However, Po had chosen to go street-level in a dragon costume, which the Five took notice of and joined him in. After saving a sheep who was being harassed by a wolf, the former informed Po and the Five that the other Councilors, Storming Ox and Croc were being held in Gongmen Jail. They then evaded the wolves chasing them and discarded the costume to hide in barrels. Upon reaching the jail entrance, Mantis rolled up in his barrel and burst out and knocked out the guards after they regarded him as cute. However, when they met the imprisoned masters, Ox and Croc refused to leave their cell, citing their helplessness against Shen's weapon.
Mantis was also instrumental in Po's first plan to stop Lord Shen. While the rest of the group was chained and brought into the peacock's tower, Mantis was put into a cage while Po replaced him with his wooden action figure. The real Mantis entered the tower undetected and was able to save his friends from Shen's cannon by snuffing out the fuse each time Boss Wolf lit it. Po and the rest of the Five were then able to free themselves. Tigress and Mantis then dislodged the cannon and knock it down to the bottom of the tower. However, Po once again allowed Shen to get away by freezing before him. The peacock flew to his foundry across the city, and as they watched him Mantis made the remark that several more cannons were waiting to fire on the tower. Through the explosions and fire that resulted, Po and the Five barely escaped alive.
Returning to Gongmen Jail, now abandoned by the wolves, Tigress demanded from Po to know why he had hesitated. When Po eventually revealed that he wanted to know from Shen what happened to his parents, Tigress hugged him (to the shock of Mantis and the others), but decided to leave him with Ox and Croc while she and others continued their mission. The Five then attempted to destroy the cannon foundry, only for their efforts to be inadvertently foiled by Po. The Five raced to save him, fighting off Shen's minions, but were too late, and he was blasted away by Shen's cannon far out from the city.
Shen soon captured the Five and bound them in chains, planning on executing them once his ships reach the harbor to conquer China. Mantis sighed, feeling he and the others were doomed, and saying he had expected to settle down with a nice girl someday who would later eat his head. Then out of nowhere, Po appeared, having survived, and he freed the Five. The battle was soon joined by Storming Ox and Croc, who had been convinced by Shifu (who had also journeyed to Gongmen City) to leave their cell. But during the battle, Shen fired his cannon at the masters, blasting them all into the open water.
All seemed lost as Mantis and the others were down and Shen and his army were ready to destroy them. Then Po rose out of the water, and used his "inner peace" to evade and deflect Shen's cannon fire and hurl it back at his fleet, decimating it entirely. The masters witnessed Po confronting Shen on his flagship before Shen incidentally caused his own death when his cannon fell on him.
Tigress helped Po out of the water, commenting that he was "pretty hardcore". Po then hugged her, much to the shock of the other masters. The rest of the Five then ran up to congratulate Po and they hugged him as well. The heroes all stayed to watch the fireworks flying out from the remains of Shen's flagship before returning to the Valley of Peace.
In the English teaser trailer, Mantis was shown partaking in an exercise with Po and the other members of the Five, contributing his skill to transport a cup of tea to Shifu through the obstacles in the Training Hall.
Mantis may be the smallest of the Five, but he'd never admit it. The little guy has a textbook Napoleon complex: strong, fast and tiny, he possesses a mean temper and is ready to 'throw down' at the slightest insult. Nothing can strike fear into his brave little heart... except a female mantis. (Check with an entomologist—you'll understand why.)
Like the rest of the Furious Five (except for Tigress) throughout the first film, he begins to warm up to Po. He was impressed by Po's wholeheartedness, even though Po knew Master Shifu was trying to get rid of him. Pragmatic and open-minded with a dry sense of humor, Mantis was actually the first of the Five to develop acceptance and liking of Po as a person, alongside the factor of Po's girth, declaring size did little to define a warrior and could actually be used as an advantage, no matter what style one practices. Mantis is a strong defender of this philosophy of his, noted to being a tad sensitive regarding his own small stature (demonstrated when he impulsively whacked two enemy wolves who called him "cute").
Mantis also appears to be the most outspoken of the Five, and seems to possess a wry sense of humor, such as when Po was so startled by the appearance of Master Shifu (whom he had been impersonating) that the two soup bowls he had been holding got stuck to his chest, making it look like a brassiere, to which Mantis was seen struggling not to laugh out loud, along with Monkey.
The traditional Mantis style is quick, calculating, responsive, and precise. Mantis' small size and incredible speed make him nearly invisible to opponents, an advantage that he uses to great effect. In addition, Mantis also possesses enormous strength, far more than his tiny size would imply. His powerful, high leaping rear legs and raptorial forelegs (or as Po calls them, his 'thingies') are used as defensive weapons.
He is the smallest of the Five, but he is obviously the strongest proportional to his size. He can perform such feats as throwing Po and single-handedly holding up a severed rope bridge burdened by most of his comrades and Tai Lung. He is also shown to be an acupuncturist, as seen when he treated Po in the first film. This skill likely helps him know where other people's pressure points are located, allowing him to take down opponents.
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Years ago, Mantis and Hao were engaged to be married, but Hao left Mantis at the altar for reasons unknown. In an attempt to get back at her, Mantis made up a lie that he was the Dragon Warrior. Suddenly wanting Mantis back, Hao dumped her current boyfriend and sent an urgent message for Mantis to come back to the village. Though he had initially planned to reject her, Mantis ended up falling for Hao all over again and they were soon engaged once more. When Hao eventually learned the truth, she immediately called off the wedding, though Mantis wasn't as upset this time round.
The Furious Five
Mantis gets along very well with the other members of the Furious Five. He appears to be especially good friends with Monkey, often standing on the primate's shoulder.
At first, Mantis wasn't impressed when meeting Po after the panda was chosen as the Dragon Warrior, being particularly un-amused by a comment about his small size, but after seeing how tenacious the panda was in his training, Mantis warmed up to him. He even tried to treat Po with acupuncture after his first day of training, but was less than successful.
While Monkey is stated to be Po's best friend, in many ways Mantis is also shown to get along well with Po, hanging out with Po more often the most of the Furious Five and acting as an older brother figure to Po to ensure he doesn't put himself in danger. Po in turn looks up to Mantis and enjoys his company, often hanging out with him and trying to help him. There have been a number of episodes that focused on or showed their close relationship, including "Sticky Situation", "Hometown Hero", "Kung fu Shoes", "Maltese Mantis", "Huge", and "Mouth Off".
In "Sticky Situation", Mantis was depressed about his girlfriend dumping him because she turned from a catepillar into a butterfly and Po tried to comfort him throughout the episode (as a subplot of the episode).
In "Hometown Hero", when Mantis confessed to Po about his telling everyone that he was the Dragon Warrior, Po decided to support his friend by helping him to maintain the facade while they were in his hometown. However, their friendship became rocky after Mantis spent far too much time with Hao Ming, so much that he neglected to duel Dosu and Sai So, leaving Po to repeatedly receive a beating. Po, eventually tired of being let down constantly, left town the day before Mantis and Hao were to get married. Po quickly returned after accidentally revealing to Dosu that Mantis had lied, and started getting beat up again while trying to stop him from revealing the truth. Mantis eventually chose to aid Po over marrying Hao, and pummeled the insect who was beating up his friend, later carrying the panda back to the Jade Palace (albeit with difficulty).
In "Kung Fu Shoes", he asked Mantis to watch him and make sure if he came close to achieving the status of Celestial Phoenix by performing the three needles test and when Mantis accidentally told him about an illegal market that sold black market which Po went to in order to get kung fu shoes that would allow him to become the celestial phoenix and get out of training, Mantis frequently advised him it was a bad idea.
In "Maltese Mantis", Po insisted that Mantis go to the fest since he wanted to share with Mantis the experience, where enthusiasts came to trade action figures, play games, and reenact famous battle scenes despite Mantis being reluctant due to the fact he heard it was filled with geeks.
In "Huge", when Mantis showed insecurity about his small size after losing to Lidong who is bigger than most, Po tried to comfort him to no success. After Mantis took a Gung-Tao potion to become bigger, Po supported him and said how awesome he was but when things got out of hand after Mantis took more of the potion to deal with Fung and Lidong, Po was the one to go get the antidote to fix Mantis.
In "Mouth Off" he supported Po in his desire to stop his talking habit to improve his kung fu skills.
After learning that Mantis was supposedly the Dragon Warrior, Hao Ming immediately dumped Dosu and seduced Mantis into taking her back. Dosu, being her current ex-boyfriend, had a strong hatred towards Mantis, and challenged him to a duel when he returned to his hometown. However, Mantis was too busy spending time with Hao to turn up at the place of the duel, even when Dosu rescheduled several times. Dosu eventually discovered Mantis's lie (having spotted Po doing kung fu) and realizing that he was the Dragon Warrior, and he attempted to stop Mantis and Hao's wedding. Despite Po's efforts, Dosu managed to reveal the truth, and Hao promptly dumped Mantis afterwards. After finally facing Dosu in combat and defeating him, Mantis decided to let his rival have Hao back, though Hao was not as happy to take back her ex.
- The circular marking on Mantis' back contains the stylized rendering of a Chinese art character for "longevity" (simplified Chinese: 寿?; traditional Chinese: 壽; pinyin: shòu), which is commonly used in paper cuttings, wooden panels, silk prints, etc.
- Mantis' fighting ability of being so small that he seems invisible to larger opponents was inspired by the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Atom Ant.
- The number of acupuncture needles that Mantis placed in Po's back while talking to Tigress added up to 133.
- Mantis' battle weakness is his right blind side.
- At one point in story development, Mantis was going to be a villain—though still a member of the Furious Five, he was actually a traitor conspiring with Tai Lung from the inside.
- Because of his small size, the filmmakers determined to have Mantis hover in certain shots to be noticeable, as an actual mantis has wings. The only problem with this was that Mantis was not originally modeled with wings!
- At one point in storyboarding for Kung Fu Panda 2, there was going to be a female mantis who appeared in a bar scene and flirted with Mantis. The character was cut during production, but was later made into a bonus deleted scene on the film's DVD (viewable here).
In popular culture
- A spoof version of Mantis has appeared with Po and the rest of the Furious Five in the MAD episodes "Kung Fu Blander" and "PO-blivion".
- In the episode "The Friend That Wasn't There" of the Monsters vs. Aliens TV series, an outlined drawing of Mantis is used when the Antarian Mantis is shown on a computer screen.