Marvel Studios Countdown is a biweekly column focusing on all things related to Marvel Studios and its movies, past, present and future.
Although Peter Quill, aka Starlord, is the leader of the team, nobody’s talking much about who will guide the Guardians of the Galaxy into intergalactic victory in Marvel’s upcoming live-action movie. What fans really want to know is who is playing Rocket Raccoon, the team’s diminutive strategic expert, who also happens to be a talking alien raccoon. Though Summer 2014 seems like an eternity away, this crucial piece of casting could make Rocket the breakout star of the film. (You can check out our character guide here.)
Director James Gunn has the chance to establish a voice for a character that has previously only existed in the minds of readers. Does Rocket sound like a comic-relief cartoon sidekick? Is his voice hilariously disarming, coming from his little body -- something more rough, deep and commanding? Does the role need celebrity star power or can an unknown fill his tiny shoes?
One person who’s at least thought about the part is Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead). Rooker worked with James Gunn before on Slither and told Movieweb, “He is a very loyal director. He is a very loyal writer, when it comes to working with people that he knows and loves.” But does that mean he’s playing Rocket? “If the fans want me as Rocket Raccoon, Marvel will listen to you guys, I think.”
That sort of fan rallying doesn’t always work, but Gunn’s public relationship with Rooker isn’t so far from the teasingly antagonistic relationship between Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Gunn would get a gleeful kick out of sticking Rooker in the biggest film of his career as the voice of a talking raccoon.
Many fans have asked for Gunn to use a different actor from his Slither days: Castle star Nathan Fillion. Fillion has made no mention of the role, to our knowledge, and is one of those names so beloved by sci-fi fans that he gets talked about almost anytime there’s a superhero role to fill. Fans wanted him as Green Lantern (and got their wish in an animated film), and now you hear him mentioned whenever casting for Marvel’s Ant-Man comes up. Fillion would actually make a good Starlord in Guardians. It’s a character that’s already very similar to Fillion’s fan-favorite Firefly role as Malcolm Reynolds (which may give him reason to pass on it). We love FIllion, but we don’t think he’s eyeing Rocket Raccoon.
Director Kevin Smith, who has nothing to do with the production of Guardians at all, offered up an out-of-the-box choice in a recent tweet: “@_mcchris - the only guy who should voice Rocket Raccoon.” MC Chris is Chris Ward, an indie rapper most familiar to fans for his work on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021, as well as his most popular song to date, “Fett’s Vette.” Chris immediately jumped on the idea, supporting a Facebook page where fans could publicly show Marvel that Chris should be in the running. More than 2,000 fans have “liked” the unusual casting choice, while an opposing page has garnered only six votes against the rapper.
You can hear MC Chris’s high-pitched voice for yourself in this interview.
We could honestly see any of these three guys in the role, but there are probably plenty of other actors who are on Gunn’s list that we haven’t even considered. Could another former collaborator, maybe Rainn Wilson or Gregg Henry, be Gunn’s first choice for the role? We’re going to be hearing a lot of Rocket in 2014, and Marvel knows it is right on the cusp of having its next breakout star. Why else would Rocket be featured in the first ads for Marvel NOW, right alongside Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine? The company has got big plans for the little guy.
As a fan, what voice do you hear when you think of an intergalactic hotshot space raccoon?