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Guardians Vol 3. Finally Reveals How Rocket Got His Name (& If He's A Raccoon)

The following article contains spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."

It's rare to get closure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but at least "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" set off its team of misfits in high fashion. Rather than saving the universe, the gang is on a mission to save Rocket's (Bradley Cooper) life after he suffers a severe wound. They'll have to scour into Rocket's past to obtain the necessary equipment to bypass a kill switch and save him. And while the main plot is going on, the audience is treated to flashbacks of Rocket's origins, where we learn how he was experimented on by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) to become hyper-intelligent. 

Viewers see Rocket go from a baby raccoon to a creature just learning basic science to innovating the High Evolutionary's processes. And naturally, there's a point where the audience learns where Rocket got his namesake. At one point, the High Evolutionary is teaching Rocket, and through a window, the little mammal sees a rocket ship take off, correctly identifying it as a "Rocket." Later, when Rocket and his cohorts are in their cages, they discuss giving themselves names as opposed to the designations they've been provided by the High Evolutionary, calling themselves Lylla, Teefs, and Floor. But Rocket has dreams of going into the sky, naming himself "Rocket." But even beyond that, Rocket goes through an emotional journey in the present day and comes to take on his comic book moniker. 

Rocket always wanted to be different

Rocket has a long history of getting offended when people refer to him as other animals. He's been called everything from a rabbit to a badger, but even when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) calls him a raccoon, he gets offended. It's all been part of Rocket's personality where he's had a perpetual chip on his shoulder, always feeling like he never quite fit in anywhere. And it makes sense to an extent why he'd be put off when people call him these various animals. 

For Rocket, he's always been one-of-a-kind. There's nothing else in the galaxy quite like him, as confirmed by the High Evolutionary, who goes to extreme measures to recapture Rocket for experimentation. It feels like a good part of Rocket's identity stems from being unique, so when he gets belittled by being compared to creatures with less mental abilities, he throws a fit. 

However, that changes when he finds an area of the High Evolutionary's ship housing other animals, including a cage of baby raccoons. Rocket opens the cage, and the babies quickly flock to him. And right there on the label Rocket learns what he's always been all along — a raccoon.

Rocket embraces his roots

Superhero movies and TV shows tend to have a thing where it takes a while for a character to receive their comic book name. In the comics, "Rocket" has always been "Rocket Raccoon," but that's been on the back burner throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as he's simply been referred to as "Rocket." That changes during his final confrontation with the High Evolutionary, as Rocket lets him know once and for all that's he's not just a subject experiment. He's "Rocket Raccoon."

It's a celebratory moment of Rocket fully embracing who he is. He's spent a lifetime running away from his past and the painful memories that lurk there. But with one defiant statement, he makes it clear the High Evolutionary no longer controls him. Rocket's calling the shots from now on, and he has his family there backing him up to lay down the hurt on the High Evolutionary one last time. 

So yes, Rocket is indeed a raccoon. It's nothing for him to be ashamed of, and after all the trauma and abuse he endured, he's finally come to accept where he's come from so that he can move on as the new captain of the Guardians of the Galaxy.