Rocket
Marvel Universe character
Rocket as depicted in Avengers: Endgame (2019)
First appearanceGuardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Based on
Adapted by
Portrayed bySean Gunn (motion capture)
Voiced byBradley Cooper
In-universe information
Full name89P13
AliasRocket
NicknameRabbit[1]
SpeciesRaccoon Halfworlder
Occupation
Affiliation
Weapon
  • Various ion and laser cannons and blasters
  • Hadron Enforcer[2]
ChildrenGroot (adoptive son)[3]

Rocket is a fictional character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) media franchise voiced by Bradley Cooper and based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Rocket was based on movements from Sean Gunn and an actual raccoon named Oreo.[4] Rocket is depicted as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers who is a hot-tempered mercenary and weapons expert.[5]

As of 2021, Rocket has appeared in four films and he will return in the upcoming films Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), as well as The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022).

Concept and creation

Bradley Cooper, who voices Rocket, prior to his casting in the role.
Bradley Cooper, who voices Rocket, prior to his casting in the role.
A typical Earth raccoon.
A typical Earth raccoon.

The comic book character was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen,[6] and inspired by the Beatles song "Rocky Raccoon".[7] Rocket Raccoon first appeared in Marvel Preview #7 (Summer 1976), in the back-up feature "The Sword in the Star", under the name "Rocky".[8][9] He would next appear in The Incredible Hulk #271 (May 1982), where it is learned that "Rocky" is short for "Rocket". In 1985, he received his own four-issue limited series and in an afterword to the first issue, Mantlo himself asserted that this was the same character seen in Preview, penciled by Mike Mignola and inked by Al Gordon with Al Milgrom. Rocket appeared in Quasar #15 in 1990 and later appeared in three issues of Sensational She-Hulk in 1992 (#44–46).[10] The character only appeared in a total of ten comic books in his first thirty years of existence.[11] Besides a brief appearance in a 2006 issue of Exiles,[10] Rocket Raccoon was next seen in 2007's Annihilation: Conquest and Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord limited series,[10][12] and their spin-off series, a new volume of Guardians of the Galaxy.[10][13] He remained a regular member of the series cast until it was canceled with issue #25 in 2010.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige first mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy as a potential film at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, stating, "There are some obscure titles, too, like Guardians of the Galaxy. I think they've been revamped recently in a fun way in the [comic] book."[14] Feige reiterated that sentiment in a September 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly, saying, "There's an opportunity to do a big space epic, which Thor sort of hints at, in the cosmic side" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Feige added, should the film be made, it would feature an ensemble of characters, similar to X-Men and The Avengers.[15] Feige announced that the film was in active development at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International during the Marvel Studios panel, with an intended release date of August 1, 2014. He said the film's titular team would consist of the characters Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket.[16] In August 2013, Marvel announced that Bradley Cooper would voice Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy.[17]

Characterization

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket was characterized as a genetically-engineered raccoon-based bounty hunter, mercenary, and master of weapons and battle tactics.[18][19][17][20] Gunn worked with live raccoons to get the correct feel for the character, and to make sure it was "not a cartoon character", saying, "It's not Bugs Bunny in the middle of the Avengers, it's a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that's alone. There's no one else in the universe quite like him, he's been created by these guys to be a mean-ass fighting machine".[21] Gunn also based the character on himself.[22] Describing Rocket in relation to the rest of the Guardians, Cooper said, "I think Rocket is dynamic. He's the sort of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas guy."[23]

Cooper voiced Rocket, while Sean Gunn (James' younger brother) stood in for the character during filming.[24] James Gunn said that for the role of Rocket, some physical movements from Cooper, including facial expressions and hand movements, were recorded as potential references for the animators,[25] though much of Sean Gunn's acting is used throughout the film.[26] Sean noted they "kind of stumbled" into the process of him performing on set since they "weren't sure how we were going to create that character". The same process continued to be used for all subsequent appearances of Rocket.[27] Before Cooper was cast, James Gunn said that it was a challenge finding a voice for Rocket, that he was looking for someone who could balance "the fast-talking speech patterns that Rocket has, but also can be funny, because he is really funny. But also has the heart that Rocket has. Because there are actually some pretty dramatic scenes with Rocket."[28] In addition to Cooper's voice and Sean Gunn's movements, the appearance of Rocket was based on an actual raccoon named Oreo. James Gunn said of the process, "We needed a raccoon to study how he looked and his behavior, so that our on-screen raccoon, which is generated through CGI will be realistic. Our Rocket is based on a combination of our voice actor, Bradley Cooper, our on-set actor, my brother Sean Gunn, the movements and behavior and look of Oreo [the raccoon], as well as my own animation".[4] Gunn brought Oreo to the red carpet premiere of the film.[29]

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Sean Gunn once again served as the stand-in for the character during filming,[30] with Cooper's performance also referenced.[31] Sean Gunn said that "Rocket has the same sort of crisis of faith [that he had in the first film] about whether or not he belongs in this family",[32] with James Gunn adding, "this is really about Rocket coming to terms with accepting his place within a group of people, which probably seemed like a good idea" when they were heroes together at the end of the first film, but now "he's just not very comfortable with the idea". Feige stated that the relationship between Rocket and Groot has changed, saying, "Groot was Rocket's protector in the first movie, [and now] Rocket is Groot's protector."[33]

Oreo died in 2019, at the age of ten.[29]

Fictional character biography

Origins

Rocket's origins are unclear, but he is unique; according to the Nova Corps, he was "the result of illegal genetic and cybernetic experiments on a lower life form". His record with the Nova Corps indicates a lengthy history of theft, arson, and escape from incarceration. At some point in his travels, Rocket becomes friends and partners with Groot, a sentient anthropomorphic tree.

Guardian of the Galaxy

Further information: Guardians of the Galaxy (film)

On the planet Xandar, Rocket and Groot attempt to capture Peter Quill for a bounty, interfering in a fight between Quill and Gamora over possession of the Power Stone that Quill had acquired. All four are captured by the Nova Corps and sent to the space prison, the Kyln. Rocket devises a plan to escape from the Kyln, and they escape along with Kyln inmate Drax the Destroyer. The five then travel to Knowhere to sell the Power Stone, where Rocket and Drax have a heated argument. After Drax drunkenly calls powerful enemy Ronan to confront him, and Ronan acquires the Power Stone, Rocket wants to flee, but is convinced by Groot and by Drax's apology to help save Xandar from Ronan's attack. As other members of the group battle Ronan aboard his ship, the Dark Aster, Rocket crashes a Ravager ship through the Dark Aster, which crash-lands on Xandar. Groot sacrifices himself to shield Rocket and the others, and the remaining Guardians are able to gain control of the Power Stone and destroy Ronan. Rocket plants a sapling cut from Groot in a pot, which grows into a baby of his species, whom Rocket adopts, also naming Groot in his biological father's honour.[34]

Facing Ego

Further information: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Two months later, Rocket and the Guardians are hired by the Sovereign to fight off an alien attacking their valuable batteries, in exchange for Nebula. Annoyed by the arrogance of the Sovereign, Rocket steals some of their batteries, leading the Sovereign fleet to chase and attack the Guardians' ship. They crash land on a planet, where Quill meet his father, revealed to be Ego, a primordial Celestial who manifests a human avatar that allows him to interact with other races. Quill, Gamora, and Drax go with Ego to his planet while Rocket and Groot stay behind to watch Nebula and repair the ship. Ravagers arrive searching for Quill and, after a fight, capture Rocket and Groot and free Nebula. The Ravagers mutiny against their leader, Yondu, and aboard the Ravager ship, Rocket and Yondu plot their escape, eventually destroying most of the Ravager vessel except for a breakaway quarter in which they travel to Ego. They learn that Ego is an evil living planet intent on dominating the universe. Quill keeps Ego occupied in combat with his newfound Celestial powers until Rocket is able to assemble a bomb, which the baby Groot places in Ego's brain. Later, Rocket and the rest of the Guardians hold a funeral for Yondu.

Infinity War

Further information: Avengers: Infinity War

Four years later, Rocket and the Guardians respond to a distress signal and end up rescuing Thor, who is floating in space amidst the wreckage of the Statesman. Thor tells them of Thanos' plan to obtain the Infinity Stones, and the Guardians split up, with Rocket and Groot accompanying Thor to Nidavellir to create a new weapon to kill Thanos. On the way, Rocket gives Thor a replacement for an eye Thor has lost. They find an abandoned Nidavellir and meet the dwarf king Eitri. The four work together to create Stormbreaker, a powerful axe that also grants Thor the power of the Bifröst. Thor transports himself, Rocket, and Groot to Wakanda on Earth via the Bifröst to help the Avengers and the Wakandan army in the battle against the Outriders. Despite being severely wounded, Thanos is able to activate the Infinity Gauntlet, snap his fingers, and teleports away. Rocket watches helplessly as Groot weakly calls out "...Dad?", as one of half of living things in the universe to dissolve.[3]

Reversing the Blip

Further information: Avengers: Endgame

Rocket and Nebula are the only members of the Guardians of the Galaxy to survive the Blip, in which Thanos uses the Infinity Stones to eliminate half of all life in the universe. Discerning Thanos' location, Rocket goes with Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner, James Rhodes, Thor, Carol Danvers, and Nebula into space to confront Thanos in the hopes of obtaining the Infinity Stones and using them to undo the damage. Thor kills Thanos after he reveals that he destroyed the Stones after using them.

Five years later, when a means is discovered to use time travel to recover past versions of the Infinity Stones with which to restore those who had been destroyed, Rocket accompanies Bruce Banner to New Asgard to convince a depressed Thor to return to the Avengers Compound and help with the effort. Rocket and Thor travel back in time to Asgard to find the Reality Stone, during the time when it had been absorbed into Jane Foster. They return to the Avengers Compound in upstate New York, but after Bruce Banner uses the new Infinity Gauntlet to undo the snap, an alternate past version of Thanos attacks, trapping Rocket under the collapsed compound with several others. Scott Lang, in his Giant-Man form, saves them, and Rocket joins the battle against Thanos' army, where he is reunited with Groot. Later, Rocket and the restored members of the Guardians of the Galaxy attend a funeral held for Tony Stark, who had sacrificed his life to stop Thanos, before leaving with them and Thor into space in search of the displaced 2014 Gamora.

Alternate versions

See also: What If...? (TV series)

An alternate version of Rocket appears in the animated series What If...? as a non-speaking character.

Thor's party

Further information: What If... Thor Were an Only Child?

In an alternate 2011, Rocket participates in Thor's intergalactic party on Earth in Las Vegas.

Reception

Year Award Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2015 MTV Movie Awards Guardians of the Galaxy Best On-Screen Duo
(with Vin Diesel)
Nominated [35]
2017 Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Best Voice Performance Nominated [36]

See also

References

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  3. ^ a b Sharf, Zack (March 7, 2018). "'Avengers' Fans Are Even More Upset After James Gunn Reveals Groot's Heartbreaking Final 'Infinity War' Line". IndieWire. Archived from the original on March 24, 2021. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
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