Rocket Fuel

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is changing Rocket's origin story — and redefining the entire trilogy

Who is the main character of Marvel’s galactic trilogy? Believe it or not, it’s not Star-Lord.

Star-Lord hogs all the attention, but James Gunn has a different understanding of his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy.

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 set to hit theaters on May 5, 2023, James Gunn has an interesting take on the story he’s been telling since 2014. In a chat with Entertainment Weekly, Gunn suggested that the main character has actually been Rocket (Bradley Cooper) all along.

“One of the reasons why I came back to [make] this movie was because I felt like I needed to tell Rocket's story,” Gunn told Entertainment Weekly. “I would've been very sad not to complete the trilogy for many reasons, but I just feel very connected to Rocket. I feel like nobody would be able to tell his full story if it wasn't me.”

Now that Gunn is overseeing the DC film franchise, his time in the MCU is nearly over. The release of the next Guardians of the Galaxy will act as a farewell for both Gunn and the characters themselves, with all their stories set to conclude in this third and final movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will bid farewell to Marvel’s galactic outlaws, and writer/director James Gunn.

Marvel Studios

Gunn says the trilogy has been about Rocket all along, and Vol. 3 will only drive that home. “To me, Rocket has always been the secret protagonist of the Guardians movies," he said. “From the beginning, it has been rooted in who he is as a character. I think he exemplifies a lot of the traits of all the Guardians. They've had all these traumas, and it brings them together. I just think that his is more extreme than others.”

Vol. 3 will not only end the story of the current Guardians, but also detail the origins of Rocket as a street raccoon forcibly transformed into the intergalactic maverick he is today. The movie will introduce the villain High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) as the being who conducted experiments on Rocket to turn him into a weapon.

“He was just fine being an animal, and he was transformed into something else he didn't want to be," Gunn said. “I think that transformation itself was extremely painful, but I also think it made him feel incredibly alienated from everyone else. In Vol. 3, we learn a lot about his past. It's been a difficult road for the little animal.”

James Gunn says Rocket has been the protagonist of his Guardians trilogy all along, and Vol. 3 will explore his origins.

Marvel Studios/Kobal/Shutterstock

Most would call Star-Lord the hero, but Rocket is strange, misunderstood, and prone to behaving recklessly. That’s the Guardians ethos to a T, and Gunn even ended 2017’s Vol. 2 in a way that speaks to his statements. With a close-up of Rocket’s face during Yondu’s funeral, Rocket is shown having revelations about his place in the cosmos. That makes him central to the Guardians’ story: No one has to be alone.

Shortly after Vol. 2, Gunn explained the final shot to Vulture, saying: “That’s when he realizes that life is something better and more grand and beautiful than what he thinks it is.”

Last month’s Christmas special refreshed Marvel fans on how the Guardians of the Galaxy can pack firepower in its emotional gut punches. Now Vol. 3 is primed to bid farewell to characters we love, and all those heavy emotions in the air will be further weighted by Rocket’s backstory finally being laid bare for all to see. His origins are shaping up to be a mix of Frankenstein and Lilo and Stitch, but no matter how dark his story gets, Rocket knows he’s not alone.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will open in theaters on May 5, 2023.

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