As the name might suggest, Marvel's upcoming summer 2014 release Guardians of the Galaxy will be a team-up movie with an ensemble cast that includes Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as interplanetary policeman Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord, Dave Bautista (Riddick) as warrior Drax the Destroyer, Zoe Saldana (Avatar) as the green-skinned assassin Gamora and Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) providing the voice and motion capture for the walking, talking tree-creature Groot.
The real star of the teaser for Guardians of The Galaxy that screened at Comic-Con this year however, was Rocket Raccoon. The furry pint-sized fighter, set to be voiced by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), won over fans thanks to a brief shot of him standing on Groot's shoulders, firing a gun and roaring in defiance, because a raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree fighting side-by-side just isn't something that you see every day.
The protagonist of the film, Chris Pratt, sounded very enthusiastic about working alongside his tiniest teammate in Guardians of the Galaxy when asked about the character by Access Hollywood. Director James Gunn has previously described Rocket Raccoon as being the "heart" of the movie, and Pratt echoed this particular sentiment.
"I could not be more excited that Bradley Cooper is voicing Rocket Raccoon, it’s a great character. It’s probably the best character in the movie, just because it’s not what you would expect.
"[Rocket Raccoon has been] tortured his whole life and no one else likes him, so he’s lonely and he’s angry and it’s like, [there are] all these elements [to the character]."
Pratt also indicated that the depth of the character is enough to keep audiences from getting caught up on the fact that he's a talking animal, adding, "You think it’s a cartoon character, but it’s not, it’s a very real creature." Presumably he's talking about the way that Rocket Raccoon has been characterized and not speaking in a literal sense, though Gunn was pictured holding a live raccoon in the early stages of Guardians of the Galaxy productions. That was to design a more realistic animated character.
Actor Michael Rooker expressed a somewhat less favorable view on the critter in an interview with SciFiNow, although perhaps that's to be expected since Rooker is playing a game hunter named Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy. Referring to his role as resourceful redneck Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead, Rooker admitted that he'd be more likely to skin Rocket Raccoon than make friends with him:
"Rocket and I don’t get along, he’s a bit abrupt and brash for my taste. I probably have a little Merle in me still, because I would roast him over an open flame and eat him for supper!"
In the comic books, Rocket Raccoon was granted the ability to think and walk on two legs through genetic experimentation, so that he could act as a ward to a race of mentally ill people dubbed the Loonies (apparently political correctness doesn't reach that far out into space). By the sounds of it he's been written as quite a straight-talking and abrasive character in Guardians of the Galaxy, which could make for some fun banter between him and the various other characters.
The Guardians of the Galaxy have already interacted with the Avengers in an episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, where they were greeted by Hawkeye saying, "There's a tree and a raccoon scowling at us, man, are we firing?" We may well see a big screen version of this collision of worlds if the Marvel cinematic universe franchises continue to cross paths with one another, but for now the introduction of the Guardians is definitely looking like it could be a lot of fun.
Guardians of the Galaxy is out in theaters on August 1st, 2014.