2014 is a big year for Marvel studios, as the superhero movie hit-house has two movies hitting theaters that could be their best one-two punch yet in terms of both fan satisfaction and cinematic quality. Films that could mark huge blockbuster debuts for some talented directors – and in on case, launch a potentially lucrative new franchise. Big year, indeed.

The trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier has fans (and the general public) looking forward to that political thriller actioner; however, bigger chips are being bet on Guardians of the Galaxy, a much more obscure Marvel property coming to the big screen in the form of a Star Wars-style epic space adventure with some truly unorthodox characters – like a gun-toting militant space raccoon named Rocket, who will be voiced by Bradley Cooper.

CBM collected a series of quotes from various recent interviews in which Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and Marvel Studios President Feige talked about (more like re-iterated) what this film will be like (it’s a hard sell, on paper),  what this Rocket Raccoon is all about, and the lengths they went to in order to make the character work on screen.

The Guardians of the Galaxy

It’s no secret that James Gunn used a live raccoon on set in order to help animators accurately capture the motion and behaviors of a raccoon for their CGI model; however, Gunn spoke to the magazine Small Furry Pets and revealed that – as you may have guessed – working with a real animal is probably the most difficult way you could go:

“In general, I enjoy working with kids and animals… We have a child in our film, Wyatt Oleff, who is one of the most naturally talented actors in the film – and this is a movie with Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro. I’ve never had a problem with kids. Animals on the other hand – I love them more than anything- but they are, in general, terrible actors. They usually do what they want.”

Of course, dealing with a live animal was a necessary sacrifice in order to create the best warrior raccoon possible:

“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.”

Cooper’s attachment to the project – alongside Vin Diesel, who provides voice and motion-capture for a tree-like alien named Groot – has given Guardians of the Galaxy a certain amount of mainstream visibility it wouldn’t otherwise have (not that the rest of the cast isn’t great – it is). At first, Bradley Cooper as a talking raccoon may sound strange – that is, if you aren’t aware of the actor’s vocal talents. Said Gunn:

“Bradley is one of those actors that can do drama and comedy equally well. He can do character work as well as being a leading man. These are important qualities in the role of Rocket – which is a lot more dramatic than you might think.”

In an interview with Total Film, he added:

“[Rocket] is most representative of the Guardians in the fact that he’s this little mangled beast that was taken and experimented on and torn apart and put back together, and we have to feel that character’s soul. If we see his plight, and see why he’s such an angry little guy, then the movie will work.”

Kevin Feige also talks about how Guardians of the Galaxy is “ninety-nine percent” set in outer space worlds, and how it connects to the main Marvel Movie Universe – check that out over at CBM.

How do you feel about the prospect of Rocket Raccoon becoming a major player in the MMU? Do you think Gunn – the man behind such off-beat indie cult-hits like Slither and Super – has the right approach to making the character a blockbuster action star? Will Bradley Cooper nail the character’s voice and swagger? Only time (and a big trailer) will tell.

…As for that aforementioned strong cast? Well it includes Benicio Del Toro, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker and Zoe Saldana.

SEE ALSO: The Characters of Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy will be in theaters on August 1st, 2014.

Sources: Small Furry Pets & Total Film via CBM