Dr. Miles Hawkins (Carl Lumbly
) is a genius
, but also a paraplegic
. Confined to a wheelchair
after being shot during a riot, he watches as the city he lives in is engulfed in crime
. Being a specialist in physiology of the human body
, he is able to invent an exoskeleton
he calls the Mechanically Augmented Neuro Transmitter Interactive System - M.A.N.T.I.S. - with which he is able to not only once again walk, but possess amazing strength and agility. As M.A.N.T.I.S., Dr. Hawkins can fight crime as a full fledged super hero
"M.A.N.T.I.S." was created to lead in "The X-Files" on the Fox Friday Night Lineup for the 1994-1995 season. It was developed by Sam Hamm and Sam Raimi and was respectively toted as from "the creators of BATMAN and DARKMAN". Hamm wrote and Raimi directed the two hour pilot which aired in the spring of 1994. The two creators however ended up having a disagreement with Fox and walked away from the project by it's Fall '94 debut.
The basic elements of Hamm and Raimi's story remained - Most importantly, that Dr. Miles Hawkins was African-American. It was important to all involved that they create a superhero that not only surpassed the color barrier, but who was a positive African-American role model. Some of their concepts changed, but the spirit remained fully intact (M.A.N.T.I.S., for example, was given a flying car).
Struggling with the decision to keep M.A.N.T.I.S. in a reality based world, the producers decided midseason to add more science fiction elements to the show. The decision did not pay off however, and "M.A.N.T.I.S." was cancelled after 22 episodes on FOX. In the final episode, Dr. Miles Hawkins meets his demise, and the truth about his M.A.N.T.I.S. creation is revealed to the world.