In a case of life cruelly imitating art, the real-life model for Guardians of the Galaxy's Rocket Racoon, Oreo, has passed away at age 10. Created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen, the beloved "trash panda" was first introduced in the comics back in 1976. Voiced by Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), the character made his big-screen debut in James Gunn's 2014 space-opera. Fans were immediately won over by the equal parts gruff and vulnerable mercenary, especially regarding his genuine bond with Groot. He would go on to feature in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and, more recently, Avengers: Infinity War.
The concluding moments of the latter would ultimately see Rocket as the only Guardian of the Galaxy left standing. While Groot tragically turned to dust before his eyes, the rest of his team met the same fate after failing to defeat Thanos on Titan. Gamora, meanwhile, was killed previously, as Thanos sought to retrieve the Soul Stone. Although frequent ally, Nebula, remains alive, she and Rocket were not particularly close. Nor is he currently aware of her status, as she drifts through space with Tony Stark. As such, Avengers: Endgame will pick up with Rocket no doubt feeling very much the outsider on a decimated Earth as the Avengers attempt to undo Thanos' infamous snap.
As reported by The Wrap, Rocket's real-life inspiration sadly wasn't quite so fortunate. While it could be easy to think that, like Hulk, Rocket's on-screen appearance is purely animated, Gunn and the rest of the crew actually used a real raccoon as their model. Not to be confused with the raccoon from the recent viral video, Oreo (as he was named) provided the distinct features while Sean Gunn provided the on-set motion capture. Unfortunately, the farm center where he lived announced that Oreo, aged 10, passed away following a short illness. Their full statement reads:
Oreo passed away in the early hours of this morning after a very short illness. Many thanks to our wonderful vets for their compassion and care. Oreo, you made so many people’s lives happy. You have been an amazing ambassador for raccoons everywhere. You loved all people of all ages and other animals too and were never phased by anything be it a walk down the red carpet as Rocket Raccoon, a trip to a hospice to visit a sick child or anything else that came your way. You just enjoyed everything and it showed. You instinctively knew when to calm, when to be bouncy and we never worried that you would do the wrong thing because you never did. You were perfect.
Fans will no doubt hope this isn't somehow a sign of things to come. While it is almost certain that Earth's mightiest heroes will ultimately succeed in their mission - as evidenced by Spider-Man and Nick Fury's appearance in the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer - it's believed that it won't be without some level of loss. Speculation remains rife as to who will make the ultimate sacrifice in order to restore the universe. While Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) remain the obvious choices, the odds are firmly stacked against any character failing to make it out alive. That being said, given Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is still in the works, Rocket had slightly better odds than most.
While Gunn will no longer be directing the conclusion of the trilogy, star Chris Pratt confirmed that his script will be used. Previously announced that the third installment will bring things full circle, it's hard to imagine that any of the core Guardians will be absent from the action. That goes extra for Rocket, who has had elements of his backstory teased but never fully explored. Though many believe Gamora's death could remain intact, it just wouldn't feel the same without the iconic pairing of Rocket and Groot. Whatever the case, fans will no doubt be keeping their fingers extra crossed ahead of Avengers: Endgame.
Source: The Wrap
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019