James Gunn Says Guardians of The Galaxy Was Never About Star-Lord

James Gunn says the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy is really about Rocket Raccoon.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

the guardians of the galaxy
james gunn

James Gunn says The Guardians of the Galaxy is really a story about Rocket, not Peter Quill/Star-Lord. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the director said the genetically modified raccoon has always been the “secret protagonist” of the franchise. “From the beginning, it [the plot] has been rooted in who he is as a character,” the filmmaker explained.

He added that Rocket exemplifies a lot of the traits of all the Guardians. “They’ve had all these traumas, and it brings them together. I just think that his is more extreme than others,” James Gunn told the publication. The director also said that the feisty Marvel character is one of the reasons he agreed to work on the third installment in the franchise.

“I felt like I needed to tell Rocket’s story,” James Gunn continued. “I would’ve been very sad not to complete the trilogy for many reasons. But I just feel very connected to Rocket. I feel like nobody would be able to tell his full story if it wasn’t me.” A master of weapons and military tactics, the grouchy raccoon has always been an important part of the Guardians’ crew.

James Gunn
Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy

But, for the first time, Rocket takes the spotlight in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 when his traumatic origin story is explored. He was transformed from an ordinary raccoon into a genetically-engineered killing machine by villainous High Evolutionary, which was something he never wanted. “He was just fine being an animal, and he was transformed into something he didn’t want to be,” James Gunn added.

Explaining further, the DC Studios head said the actual transformation process was extremely painful. And that particular type of trauma made him feel alienated from everyone else. “In Vol. 3, we learn a lot about his past, where he came from, who he is, and what he’s been through,” James Gunn told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s been a difficult road for the little animal.”

Luckily, Rocket won’t face his demons alone, as his Guardians family will be right by his side in the James Gunn-directed third installment. The story takes place after the events of Thor: Love and Thunder and the crew’s recent Holiday Special. After purchasing Knowhere from the Collector, the team tried to turn the planet into a haven for alien refugees.

When Knowhere is attacked, Peter Quill has to lead the Guardians on a dangerous mission to protect one of their own. But the ensuing battle could lead to the team disbanding for good. Written by James Gunn, the movie sees Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, and Sean Gunn reprise their roles as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Nebula, and Kraglin, respectively. Vin Diesel returns as the voice of Groot and Bradley Cooper lends his to Rocket.

Gamora (portrayed by Zoe Saldana) also makes a complicated comeback as an alternate-timeline version of herself. The original Gamoroa was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. But Avengers: Endgame saw a younger version of the character travel to the present. She now serves as the leader of the Ravagers. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 also introduces Marvel fans to new allies and enemies.

Will Poulter joins the cast as Adam Warlock. The all-powerful being wants to destroy the Guardians. According to James Gunn, his advanced superpowers make him a formidable foe. And his encounters with the superhero team create “an interesting juxtaposition” within the story. The movie will be released on May 5, 2023.