It’s still hard for me to accept that Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie isn’t just an elaborate practical joke. I mean, it’s weird enough that they would greenlight such an obscure (at least to mainstream audiences) property. Until it actually opened and blew the doors off theaters, nobody was entirely sure that Avengers would work, and it’s comprised of characters people have actually heard of. Guardians of the Galaxy? It’s got a freakin’ space raccoon And you can add this rumor to the “it’s all a joke” evidence: it sounds like Rocket Raccoon might be played by Michael Rooker.
Yes, that Michael Rooker. Merle the one-handed racist from The Walking Dead. The guy who made a name for himself playing the lead in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. That guy. Now look, I’m not saying he doesn’t have a great, unique voice — he does. I also have no doubt that he would do as well in the role of a probably CGI space raccoon as anybody else could. It’s just…odd.
The rumor came out an interview with MovieWeb. Knowing that Rooker has worked with Guardians director James Gunn in the past, they coyly asked if he was a fan of raccoon Rooker laughed and played along, replying “I love raccoons. Raccoons are my friends!” When asked more seriously if he thought he was right for the role, Rooker went into more detail:
“Oh, yeah. Most certainly. I know that James Gunn is doing it. He is directing it, and he is re-writing it. He is a very loyal director. He is a very loyal writer, when it comes to working with people that he knows and loves. He really appreciates the efforts that each actor puts into these roles. And I would be very honored and pleased to work with James Gunn again…Whether it will happen or not, I don’t know. But he is a dynamite guy, and we have remained friends ever since we worked together on Slither.
That’s certainly not a confirmation or anything, but it is food for thought. It’s going to take a very specific combination of writing, directing, and performance to sell a mainstream audience on a talking space raccoon without the entire thing feeling too much like a Disney movie. The character is inherently absurd, but not necessarily any more absurd than, say, a meek scientist who turns into a giant green rage monster when he gets angry. The trick will be to acknowledge the goofiness of the character right off the bat, then win the audience over by making Rocket Raccoon a genuinely fun and likable character, preferably by having him do something badass and decidedly non-Disney as quickly as possible. I’m not saying he should rip the throat out of an alien three times his size, but I’m not saying he shouldn’t either.
Guardians of the Galaxy will arrive in theaters on August 1, 2014…space raccoon and all.