In his first interview following his firing and eventual rehiring to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn struck a remarkably even tone while talking about the roller coaster he went through. But while he has largely made peace with how things unfolded, Gunn said there was one element of the entire debacle that would have hit him hard: not being able to finish Rocket Raccoon’s arc. The sardonic anthropomorphic raccoon played by Bradley Cooper was near to Gunn’s heart, and he suggests that in the third Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket would wrap up his arc from distrustful petty criminal to full-fledged hero.
In an extensive interview with Deadline in which he gets candid about his firing and rehiring by Disney, Gunn spoke about the one thing that he would have regretted had he not been able to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. “When you asked me what was saddest for me when I thought it was gone—and anybody at Marvel can tell you—it’s this very strange and attached relationship to Rocket,” Gunn answered. “Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic.”
While Groot, the fan-favorite of the franchise, is more “like my dog,” Gunn says, Rocket is Gunn’s surrogate in the series, and he would have liked to see through his entire character arc in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He said:
“I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed. He has an arc that started in the first movie, continued into the second and goes through Infinity War and Endgame, and then I was set to really finish that arc in Guardians 3. That was a big loss to me—not being able to finish that story—though I was comforted by the fact that they were still planning to use my script.”
Rocket Raccoon got some development in the hands of the Russo brothers in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, where he was paired up with Thor and found a similarly lost soul in Nebula, but it’s in the Guardians franchise where he really shines. But as of the end of Avengers: Endgame, Rocket seems like his arc from petty criminal to superhero is fairly complete — where could he go from here? Perhaps Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 could have him grappling with his tragic past as an experiment, or have him gain a love interest as has been theorized by fans. Rocket has been stuck in a parenting relationship with Groot for the past few films, and to see him open up emotionally with another character would be fantastic.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is scheduled to hit theaters sometime in 2020.
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