When Guardians of the Galaxy was released a few years back, everyone was losing their minds at the thought of a super fit, hunky, galaxy-saving Chris Pratt as Star-Lord. And while Pratt did an excellent job in the flick, as did the other actors involved, there’s one character that captured audience’s hearts– Rocket Raccoon. He was a little mischievous, he had a questionable moral compass, he didn’t always have something nice to say– but audiences loved him nonetheless. He was a charming scamp, a roguish troublemaker, and everyone adored him.
However, unlike bigger comic book figures like Thor and Captain America, many people who weren’t familiar with comic books hadn’t really heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy prior to the film. Even someone who hasn’t read a comic in their life has likely heard of bigger characters through sheer pop culture knowledge, but if you hadn’t read any comics featuring Rocket Raccoon, chances are, you would have no clue who he is. So, while audiences loved the snarky Rocket Raccoon in the film, many people didn’t really know too much about the character. What was he up to before joining the Guardians team? Where did he come from? Why was Groot his partner in crime? Why is he seemingly a raccoon with more humanistic characters? Many fans of the movie found themselves searching for more information about Rocket after the credits rolled– and there’s plenty to learn about the fascinating character.
Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about Rocket Raccoon.
15. His Film Character Was Based On A Real Life Raccoon
When the animators are creating a unique creature that’s a type of anthropomorphized creature, they theoretically have free rein to make whatever tweaks they’d like – but they stayed true to Rocky’s raccoon roots. Yes, Bradley Cooper did a phenomenal job voicing the character for the film, and Rocky’s voice definitely adds a lot to his personality. However, when it came to crafting how Rocky would look on screen, not just sound, the animators turned to a real life raccoon named Oreo. Oreo was a rescue raccoon, taken in by a group in the UK after his raccoon mother was unable to feed him, and since there weren’t many tame raccoons near where the movie was filming, Oreo became the inspiration. And everyone got aboard the Oreo love train — even director James Gunn shared several shots of him and the resident raccoon mascot, and Oreo was even able to attend the London premiere. Adorable.
14. He Was Inspired By A Beatles Song
When you think of a trash-talking raccoon, chances are, The Beatles aren’t the first thing that come to mind – but perhaps they should be. It turns out, the character of Rocky Raccoon was originally inspired by a folk song of the same name on The Beatles’ album, The Beatles. Originally, the song was titled Rocky Sassoon, but Paul McCartney switched it up a little to make it sound more like a cowboy’s name – and, a few years later, Rocky Raccoon was born. In fact, Rocky Raccoon’s first big appearance in the comic book world gave a little nod to his musical originals. He appeared in The Incredible Hulk #271, titled Now Somewhere in the Black Holes of Sirius Major There Lived a Young Boy Name of Rocket Raccoon – a slight twist on the opening line of “Rocky Raccoon.” Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon was from another planet, not from the Dakotas as the song croons, but hey, pretty cool tip of the hat nonetheless.
13. He Grew Up In An Insane Asylum
It’s no secret that many comic book characters have, well, unique origin stories, often filled with some type of tragedy or pain. Rocket Raccoon fits into that world perfectly. He was born on a planet known as Halfworld, and while we won’t go into Halfworld’s whole complex story, we’ll sum it up in this way: the planet is divided into two hemispheres, one populated by robots and the other by animals and a humanoid race called the Loonies. Long story short, the Loonies ended up needing someone to take care of them after the robots ran off, and several genetically enhanced animals were given the task of watching over the Loonies — and Rocket Raccoon was one of them. Just stop to think of that for a moment. Rocket’s early years consisted of painful genetic testing and being a caretaker for the insane. It’s really no wonder that he has a few issues!
12. He Wasn’t An Original Member Of The Guardians
It’s no secret that Rocket Raccoon became one of everyone’s favourite characters from the 2014 flick Guardians of the Galaxy – except for, perhaps, Baby Groot. However, Rocky wasn’t actually a part of the original Guardians team, which debuted in the comic book world in 1969 — that distinction goes to Major Victory, Martinex T’Naga, Captain Charlie-27 and Yondu Udonta. In fact, the team that fans of the movie know and love didn’t assemble until 2008, when two writers brought a group of unrelated characters together to craft a new Guardians squad. It turned out to be a perfect mash of characters who were somewhat misfits yet fit perfectly with one another to create a rag tag bunch of heroes — that’s part of the reason the movie was so successful. Everyone loves rooting for the underdog, and despite the fact that Rocky Raccoon has enough confidence to fuel a thousand ships, he was certainly an underdog.
11. Bradley Cooper Only Voiced Rocket In The Movie
When it comes to a character like Rocket Raccoon, the question of who ‘plays’ him is a little more confusing. It isn’t like Starlord, who was obviously played by Chris Pratt, or even other actors who played creatures with the help of a little makeup. Rocket is, well, a raccoon. So Bradley Cooper really just gave his voice to the character. However, when Cooper wasn’t available while his co-stars were filming, director James Gunn needed someone to stand in and help play the motion-capture part of the trash-talking raccoon. Since they needed someone ASAP, for a fairly long time commitment, James turned to someone close to him for a little help– his brother, actor Sean Gunn. So, while it’s Bradley Cooper’s voice you’ll hear when Rocket is on screen, all those quirky movements and physical traits are courtesy of the talented Sean Gunn. It would seem that having a brother who is also in show business really saved James Gunn in this case!
10. One Of His Best Movie Lines Was Improvised
Anyone who has seen Guardians of the Galaxy knows that Rocket Raccoon’s character is great comic relief. Sure, he has a few serious moments, but in general, you can count on him to step in with a snarky line or particularly hilarious bit of trash talk. However, one of his best lines in the movie actually wasn’t originally in the script at all – it was improvised. As we previously revealed, director James Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn became a staple on set who helped put together Rocket’s gestures and body for the cameras. He also channeled a bit of Rocket snark, it seems – he improvised the line “Happy? We’re all standing now. Bunch of jackasses, standing in a circle.” Director James Gunn liked the line so much that he added it to the script and got Bradley Cooper to record it when he was voicing the character – it seems Sean Gunn is a triple threat!
9. He Has One True Love – An Otter Named Lylla
Though packed with action scenes and complex origin stories, comics have another big element – romantic storylines. Everyone loves a good comic book couple, and the drama around relationships proves for great plot fodder. Not even Rocket Raccoon is immune to love, it turns out. While his mischievous personality means he flirts with just about everyone, his true love is an otter named Lylla who is an heir to a toy empire on Halfworld, his home planet. After a crazy plot unfolds where toys from the company are sold to the Loonies on Halfworld, Rocket eventually ends up having to rescue Lylla – and the rest is history. In case readers ever tire of hearing Rocket’s trash talk or finding out about his adventures in the galaxy and just want to see something a little lighter and more filled with romantic lines, perhaps a Rocket and Lylla spin-off is in the works.
8. He Can Identify Objects Before Touching Them
Rocket Raccoon occupies a bit of a strange middle ground between human and animal. He definitely has some human traits, such as his ability to walk on two legs and, you know, speak a language other humans can understand. However, his appearance still makes clear that he’s an animal – as do some of his special skills. For example, many of his senses are heightened beyond the senses of a human, such as his ability to see in the dark and his enhanced sense of smell. The most interesting, though, is his ability to identify what things are before even touching them. Let us explain. Thanks to his whiskers, rocket is able to identify what objects are without actually touching them with his paws – those sensitive whiskers transmit the knowledge of what the object he’s faced with is. No wonder he was such a good thief — you can do plenty of delicate intel and research if you can perceive things without actually leaving your fingerprints all over them!
7. He Stepped In For Star-Lord As Leader Of The Guardians
We’ve already established that Star-Lord is definitely the leader of the latest Guardians squad, but in certain situations when he’s not able to take on the leadership role, someone else has to step up. And while you might assume that role would go to someone who isn’t quite as mischievous and fun-loving as Rocket, it turns out that the sassy raccoon actually has some impressive chops when it comes to leadership. For example, when Star-Lord left the squad because Ronan sent him to the Negative Zone, the Guardians team almost fell apart entirely – it was only with Rocket’s leadership that they banded back together and worked hard until Star-Lord was rescued from the Negative Zone. Seriously, we’re hoping that Rocket gets his own spin-off movie after the Guardians franchise finishes up, because there’s plenty of material he could carry all on his own. Come on, like you wouldn’t absolutely love to check out a Rocket-filled flick?
6. Do You Know How Great A Criminal He Is?
Rocket makes no secret of the fact that he’s a criminal – in fact, he meets Starlord when he’s trying to capture him in order to make a quick buck from the ransom that’s out on his head. However, you probably didn’t know quite how extensive his criminal record is. In the comic book world, Rocket Raccoon’s Nova Corps rap sheet includes: 13 counts of theft, 7 counts of mercenary activity, 15 counts of arson, and a whopping 23 counts of escape from incarceration. So, basically, this clever criminal will take whatever he wants (especially if he wants it more than whoever owns it) and won’t worry too much about the consequences because he can easily break out of any prison. While his rap sheet might seem negative, it just proves what a benefit he is to the Guardians team – you don’t get a record like that without having quite a few skills under your belt (although with his Guardians squad, he can use those skills to help others rather than break the law).
5. His Origin Story Includes A Nod To Classic Silent Films
When you’re creating universes as complex and creative as they do in the comic book world, you get inspiration from all over the place — and in Rocket’s case, the writers got a bit of inspiration from the world of silent films. You see, the law enforcement agents of Halfworld, Rocket’s home planet, go by the name the Keystone Quadrant Kops, and are dressed in the same type of uniforms that police officers rocked in the early 20th century. That’s no accident. It’s a reference to a silent film troupe by the name of Keystone Cops, who appeared in films from approximately 1914 to the early 1920s. And, their behaviour lines up quite well with the Keystone Kops’ in the comics – originally, they’re a slapstick, incompetent force filled with lunatics, much like some of the crazy silent film characters. It seems that if you want to be a writer in the comic book world, you’d better bone up on your pop culture knowledge – you never know what will inspire you.
4. There’s More To “I Am Groot” Than People Think
As anyone who has seen the movie knows, Groot has pretty much one line throughout the entire flick – “I am Groot.” It’s a phrase he repeats over and over again, with various tones. However, it turns out, he’s not just repeating the same phrase – that’s just how it sounds to most people who don’t understand his language. You see, Groot is a Flora colossus from Planet X, a species of tree-like beings whose language is rendered nearly impossible to understand because of how stiff their larynx is. So, Groot is actually speaking more than just those three simple words – it’s just that they don’t quite come out the right way. However, Rocket is one of the few species in the world who is able to understand the language of the Flora Colossi, so it makes sense that the two were such buddies and partners in crime before joining up with the Guardians group.
3. He’s A Master Tactician
While arguably Star-Lord is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the venerable Star-Lord himself actually paid Rocket quite a compliment when it came to tactical ability – he once told Rocket that “you got the best tactical mind I ever met.” That’s no small compliment, especially coming from someone like Star-Lord. Rocket is a master of petty crime and trash talking, but he’s also able to formulate complex and flawless battle strategies, and to think on the fly when he’s in a tricky situation. That’s part of what made him such an effective criminal, and why he was so easily able to escape from incarceration, time and time again – he’s able to come up with alternatives when faced with a challenge. It’s also what makes him such a great part of the Guardians team – he can plan out their strategy heading into any situation better than anyone else.
2. He Doesn’t Make Many Appearances — At First
There are some characters who are introduced into the comic book universe and then immediately begin popping up everywhere – in their own series, as guest stars in other characters’ series, etc. However, Rocket Raccoon was not one of those characters. Over the course of 30 years after he was first introduced, he only showed up in ten comics. Ten! In comparison with other characters whose appearances easily total in the hundreds, it’s such an insanely minuscule number. However, we have a feeling that will change in a major way within the next couple of years. Rocket was definitely one of the breakout stars of Guardians of the Galaxy, and fans simply can’t get enough of the sassy, trash-talking raccoon, so writers would be positively mad to not capitalize on that with more Rocket appearances in the comic world. The Adventures of Rocket and Groot is a series we could get behind in a heartbeat.
1. He’s A Master Of Weaponry
Rocket is a man of many skills – and weapons are one of them. While he can definitely hold his own in combat, and his ability to sneak through the cracks undetected is one of the reasons his criminal past is so impressive, if it comes down to plain old entering into battle, guns blazing, he’s your guy. His weapons of choice are the two super cool laser pistols he carries, but he’s also able to use heavier weaponry – even though his stature is, well, smaller than the average human’s. It just goes to prove that Rocket’s unusual physique means he’s able to do things that both humans and animals alone can’t do – he’s a unique hybrid, and an incredible asset to any team, on either side of the law. If you know what’s good for you, Rocket Raccoon is a foe that you certainly don’t want to go up against.