Warning! SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War ahead!
Avengers: Infinity War only left a handful of heroes alive, and of those heroes, only one Guardian of the Galaxy - Rocket. With Gamora killed by Thanos and Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, and even Groot blinked out of existence, only Thor's best friend Rabbit remains, which means it'll be up to him to work alongside the surviving Avengers to figure out if and how those who they've lost can be saved in Avengers 4. Fortunately, Rocket's the best they could have asked for.
For some viewers, it may have seemed odd to leave the talking raccoon alive while more notable or important heroes fade away, but Rocket has come a long way since first joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a character, he's grown and changed in fundamental ways; and his abilities are unlike those of anyone else left standing after Infinity War.
Rocket is sure to have an important role to play in Avengers 4, allowing him to not only be a hero but prove just how far he's come from being a gimmicky character who spouts funny lines.
Rocket: Talking Raccoon Shouldn't Have Worked
Though now an essential member of the team, Rocket was almost not included in Guardians of the Galaxy over fears that audiences wouldn't take a talking raccoon seriously. When your films have been built around strapping super-soldiers and playboy billionaires, it might be tough to sell movie-goers on a little furry mercenary. More often than not, talking animal characters are merely sidekicks or comedic relief, and while Rocket certainly veers into one of those categories, over the course of his three MCU appearances, the raccoon (who is not known by that clarifier) has proven himself to be so much more than a silly talking animal who builds bombs and cracks jokes.
As introduced, Rocket is a genetically enhanced creature who just so happens to resemble Earth's raccoons who escaped those who had experimented on him and turned to a life of crime. He's sarcastic and condescending and keeps everyone at a distance - even his only friend, the sentient tree creature, Groot. Together, these two take on any number of nefarious jobs from larceny to kidnapping, whatever comes with the highest reward. It was while on one of these jobs - a bounty for Peter Quill, put on him by Yondu for not delivering the Orb - that Rocket met the other Guardians; each of them broken and in pain, just like Rocket, and trying to escape the past.
Alongside Peter, Gamora, Drax, and of course Groot, Rocket not only saved the galaxy (twice) but learned to trust in others, build relationships with them, and eventually, open himself up to these new friends. It's a messy process and one that leads to a lot of arguing and grief, but Rocket goes on a journey with the Guardians where he grows fundamentally as a character in a way hardly ever given to the funny talking animal - especially in a film that also stars live human actors. Each of the Guardians has these journeys, it's true, but Rocket's refusal to face his past is even greater than the others, making his eventual acceptance and then personal growth all the more significant.
Who Rocket Is After Three Movies
It takes two films for Rocket to grow from a petty criminal who hides his pain behind sarcasm into someone even close to resembling a hero. It takes being repeatedly disrespected and called names like "vermin" or "rodent" for Rocket to express how much it hurts him, sharing the pain he feels over his own creation and existence, shouting "I didn't ask to be made!" It takes experiencing the kind gestures and sacrifices of the other Guardians - especially Groot and Yondu - for him to begin acting selflessly and stop keeping his friends at arm's length. Rocket's journey across the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films makes him more compassionate, more understanding, and eventually, a more heroic character.
Come Avengers: Infinity War, Rocket is displaying all those qualities and more when he agrees to aide in Thor's quest to create a weapon strong enough to kill Thanos. Sure, he's interested in any and all kinds of weaponry, but Rocket also recognizes how vital this mission is and accepts the responsibility of completing it, where an earlier iteration would have only looked to profit. It's also notable that Thor assumes Rocket is the ship's captain, suggesting that even the way he carries himself has changed to reflect a more mature and dedicated attitude. While on their way to Nidavellir, Rocket consoles Thor, showing a real concern for someone he's only just met. But most of all, Rocket has become a father to the young Groot, setting an example and inspiring Groot to help in the creation of Stormbreaker and in the battle against Thanos.
Rocket has learned to love and trust his friends - his family - so deeply that to have them all taken away is the most tragic outcome possible. But from that tragedy, Rocket now has the opportunity to prove himself a true hero, doing everything in his power to save the ones he loves the most.
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