I’m a pretty casual Marvel fan who doesn’t read the comics, but I consider the Guardians of the Galaxy to be my favorite heroes in the comic book company’s universe these days. That being said, while I knew Rocket Raccoon’s backstory through the game adaptations, I was wholly unprepared for how brutal it would be in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. This is a PSA to all the animal lovers out there: Be prepared for a rough time during Marvel’s latest found family space dramedy.
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To keep this as spoiler-free as possible, we won’t go into specifics here about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe portrays Rocket’s story, but anyone who saw the original Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 knows a bit of what our walking, talking, raccoon friend went through before he met Star-Lord and company. Early in the first movie, Rocket gets in a drunken fight with Drax the Destroyer when he’s fed up with being called things like “vermin.” He reveals he’s the product of violent experimentation, but by who and to what ends is unclear.
“I didn’t ask to get made. I didn’t ask to be torn apart and put back together over and over, and turned into some little monster.”
If you’re not a comic book fan and mostly engage with the Marvel movies on their own, that’s all we’ve really known about where Rocket came from. However, his past is central to the plot in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, and we spend a lot of the movie watching the Bradley Cooper-voiced hero grow up in a lab where he and other intelligent animals are subject to violent experimentation, and are constantly in a general state of distress. There are elements of animal body horror, abuse, and intense grief all centered around Rocket and his animal peers, and for a Marvel film, it can be hard to watch.
While we won’t deal in spoilers, it’s worth noting that if you’re a person who has a lot of trouble watching animals suffer, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 sits with this story for a great deal of its runtime. Maybe I’m just sensitive to this kind of thing having lost a pet recently, but I cried more than a few times watching Rocket’s story unfold. I really loved where the movie ended up in the end, but if you can’t watch Marley & Me because you don’t like seeing animals suffer, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 might not be for you. Be prepared.