Is a Talking Raccoon the Most Important Character in Marvel's Phase 2 Plan?

Is a Talking Raccoon the Most Important Character in Marvel's Phase 2 Plan?

Apr 19, 2013

Rocket Raccoon James Gunn was at the U.K. premiere of Iron Man 3 last night, and the fine folks at Hey U Guys caught up with the Guardians of the Galaxy director who cleared up a lot of rumors circulating about the direction of the project and explained why a talking raccoon might be the most important character in the Marvel universe as we head into Phase Two. Read on for choice quotes from the filmmaker.

Gunn starts off by confirming that Guardians will begin filming this June – which means we should have more casting updates for the major roles sooner, rather than later.

When the topic of casting comes up, the director is quick to point out that only Chris Pratt is officially confirmed for the project. Gunn plays coy when talking about Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana and the recently announced casting of Michael Rooker – but based on his comments, it seems like a certainty that they’re in… even if he’s not willing to confirm it 100%.

If that’s the case, there’s still one major role to be filled – that of Rocket Raccoon, the talking raccoon who is a main member of the Guardians team. Hey U Guys mentions that comics legend Brian Michael Bendis always imagines Rocket’s dialogue in the voice of Jason Statham, but Gunn seems to have his own idea about who should provide the character’s dialogue.

I think there’s – here’s the thing: there are a lot of people who have a lot of ideas of who is right for Rocket Raccoon. Rocket Raccoon has been slightly different over the years, in the comic books, and within my scripts he is a very, very specific guy, and I think people are going to have to wait for a few weeks before they see.

We’ll have to wait for a few weeks to see. We’ll get our dream guy, because a lot of people want to do it, so we’ll get the person who’s perfect for the role.”

Gunn goes on to explain why he’s putting so much effort into filling the role:

“I’ve done a lot of studying with real raccoons, and we had real raccoons come in. We’ve done photography with them, I’ve played with raccoons, and fed raccoons, and dealt a lot with real raccoons to get some of the behavior down, because it’s really, really important to me that Rocket Raccoon, who is the heart of the movie, is not a cartoon character, 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."

Based on those comments, it seems as though we can assume that Rocket and Guardians will be hugely important in setting up the outer space aspect of Marvel's Phase Two plans, as well as The Avengers 2. Selling audiences on an accessible space-set adventure is what's at stake here for Marvel's longterm plans, and this talking raccoon may hold the key to it all. If audiences buy him, they buy the world. If they buy the world, they'll invest heavily in the film and its characters, and Marvel can truly expand this universe heading into Phase Three. 

Finally, Gunn addresses the discussion that Guardians looks an awful lot like a Star Wars film, explaining why the impression exists.

“I do think we’re very, very different from Star Wars. Some of the concept art that came out is under my tutelage, and some of it is before my tutelage. The concept art that came out is only stuff that was on the big Marvel collected disc set, talking about Phase Two and it had some stuff from Guardians. Some of the art by Charlie Wen and the guys.”

Be sure to swing by Hey U Guys for more comments and observations from James Gunn. Before you do, share your casting choices for the now pivotal character of Rocket Raccoon in the comment section below.

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