Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) highly anticipated Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol. 3 might be tough to watch, but the stakes are raised as the lovable Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, takes centre stage in a heart-wrenching battle against animal cruelty. Director James Gunn weaves a tale that tackles the grim reality of animal testing with a powerful and timely message.
Rocket, whose tragic past was hinted at in the first 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy, receives a heartbreaking backstory in the latest volume. When a surprise attack leaves him wounded, his loyal teammates embark on a daring mission to save their furry friend. As Rocket lies unconscious, the audience is taken on a bitter journey through his tortured memories of life as an animal prisoner.
Enter the High Evolutionary—the ruthless villain—determined to create the perfect species by testing on animals and evolving them. But if things don’t go his way, the consequences are dire as he callously burns his subjects alive. First seen as a baby raccoon shuddering in a cage, Rocket forms deep bonds with his fellow captive companions: Lylla, an otter with mechanical arms; Teefs, a walrus on wheels; and Floor, a rabbit with a metal mouth. These misfit animals have stood by Rocket's side since their youth, providing emotional support in the face of unimaginable cruelty.
At times disturbing and heartbreaking, no animals were harmed during the making as they were created through digital effects, however, these scenes are certainly not an easy watch, especially for those with sensitive, animal-loving hearts. According to Gunn, "Rocket was created by someone who didn't care for him at all." The film emphasises the transformative power of compassion, reminding us that extending our empathy to all living beings enriches our own lives immeasurably.
PETA, the prominent animal rights organisation, has commended Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as the pinnacle of animal rights cinema. PETA's Senior Vice President, Lisa Lange, asserts that the movie allows audiences to see animals and wildlife as individuals. “Just because we can experiment on them doesn’t mean that we should. Through Rocket, James Gunn has put a face, a name, and a personality on the millions of vulnerable animals being cycled through laboratories as we speak.”