When writer-director James Gunn envisioned the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy 10 years ago he knew that the core of the story was Rocket and his story. Now, following the success of Guardians of the Galaxy Volumes 1 & 2, Rocket’s story drives the narrative in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3.
In making “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Gunn felt emboldened to make riskier choices in the
way the movie was shot, which he says is “rawer” emotionally than the first two movies. “The
central character, in a way, is Rocket, and Rocket’s the one I feel close to,” he explains. “The first
film is the story of the mother, the second film is the story of the father, and this film is the story
of the self, so it’s innately more intimate because of that.”
Rocket is definitely the heart of the story in the third and final film of the Guardians franchise.
“This is a little animal who was taken and turned into something he shouldn’t be and felt completely ostracized and alienated from every other life form in the galaxy and was angry because of that and angry because he’s scared,” says Gunn. “That loneliness is the center of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ It’s funny because people think of them as lighthearted movies and fun movies but everything that drives it is that emotional center of Rocket and the other characters who are all outsiders, who don’t feel as if they really belong. But the cracks start to open up a little bit between some of the characters, so they start to love each other.”
Bradley Cooper reprises the voice of Rocket, the wise-cracking, cosmic criminal we first met in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Now that he’s saved the universe a few times, he’s a little wiser and more comfortable with the team. But Rocket’s past has finally caught up with him, and he must face the trauma of his early life to save more than just the Guardians.
“I work on backstories for people, so I know where they come from,” says writer-director James Gunn. “So my pathway into the Guardians initially was, Marvel talked to me about perhaps doing Guardians of the Galaxy. They actually had some art already done with Rocket in it. And I thought, “Boy, this can be goofy. This could be like Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers.” I’m like, “How can I not make it goofy?” And I thought about, “Well, okay, if there was a talking space raccoon, how would he have come to exist?” And as I mused upon it, I started thinking about how this was the saddest creature in the universe, and that was actually the seed to me for the entire Guardians trilogy. That was my way into it, was this underpinning of just isolation and sadness and all of these characters are isolated and sad. So I knew what Rocket’s backstory was from that moment; before I had come up with the rest of that stuff for Volume 1, it was the first thing I came up with.”
Although much has changed since we last saw the Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn has kept one major thread consistent throughout each film—the complexity of family. We’ve seen the Guardians struggle, love, fight and ultimately become a family of their own—a family not bonded by blood but by choice. Something that audiences can all relate to in some way.
Zoe Saldaña expands on this sentiment, saying, “What makes James Gunn a special storyteller is that he finds genuine, universal, common emotions and common conflicts, and he utilizes them and sets them on a universe-type of tapestry. We’re all still able to relate to it because we all feel sort of like underdogs sometimes. We all hurt when we are neglected or rejected, or treated unfairly. But we all are capable of feeling a great level of compassion for each other, so he creates this beautiful story with all of these universal feelings.”
Executive producer Simon Hatt expresses the pride everyone feels in the franchise: “We’re proud of the work. Everyone’s very proud of the work that they’ve done over the past ten years and the journey they’ve taken their characters on. In ‘Vol. 3,’ you’re going to see new emotional heights, and new depths in these characters that the actors are finding, as well as story layers that haven’t been seen before in a movie like this. James is really pushing the envelope.”
Chris Pratt who stars as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, who is trying to cope with the idea that Gamora is alive but doesn’t know who he is. Quill struggles to move on, which leaves the Guardians vulnerable to attack. Quill must make up for his mistakes in order to protect one of his own.
Says Pratt: “This has been over ten years in the making and these films are so uniquely James Gunn—his voice, his writing, his directing, his love for animals, his comedy, his drama, his specific tone. I’m so grateful that he has been our maestro for all three films.”
Says Gunn of his last cinematic journey with the Guardians in the MCU, “I just wanted to make the coolest movie that I could possibly make. It’s really been rewarding for me to make this movie, which is such a personal statement because Rocket is me and this is about me. To see people react to it in the way that they have so far is a good feeling.