Goodbye, Rocket — Bradley Cooper Likely Never Returning to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

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rocket (left) and drax (right) in guardians of the galaxy

Credit: Marvel Studios

Over the next couple of years, two more Guardians of the Galaxy projects will release from Marvel Studios and director James Gunn. Most of the fan-favorite Guardians from the Marvel Cinematic Universe will return for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), including Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) for the latter, but there have been some notable absences in recent casting announcements for certain projects.

And to further the uncertainty, it seems that time is finally up for Cooper’s wise-cracking Rocket Raccoon following the Hollywood star’s latest comments.

guardians of the galaxy from left: zoe saldana as gamaora, bradley cooper sean gunn as rocket raccoon, chris pratt as peter quill aka star lord, vin diesel as groot, dave bautista as drax the destroyer
Credit: Marvel Studios

Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon first debuted in James Gunn’s risky MCU blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). The Hangover star was joined by a stellar cast made up of Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Groot (Vin Diesel), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Michael Rooker (Yondu), and Karen Gillan (Nebula).

The upbeat, comical movie was a surprising hit, anchored by its loveable cast of misfit characters, and spawned two direct sequels — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and the upcoming, aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The Guardians’ time in Kevin Feige’s movie Marvel Universe was also fleshed out by appearances in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). The latter, of course, set up Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to once again work with the Guardians in his own sequel, the fourth installment of the Thor franchise, Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) from director Taika Waititi.

top left chris hemsworth as thor odinson, bottom left bradley cooper sean gunn as rocket raccoon and right vin diesel as groot in avengers infinity war
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel’s New Drax Finally Speaks Out After Replacing Dave Bautista

One thing is for certain, that despite all the Guardians having their own merits and loved in their individual ways, fans have been drawn to Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon and Diesel’s Groot in such a way it’s hard to remember that they are but CGI creatures voiced by two popular actors. That being said, for reasons yet unknown, the two fan-favorite characters will seemingly be missing from the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special lineup after Marvel’s cast announcement for the Special did not mention the unlikely pairing.

It is worth noting though, that both characters are slated to appear in Thor: Love and Thunder and in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so chances are an event in the Thor sequel could leave them absent from the festive Disney+ outing. The uncertainty of which characters are appearing in the franchise, and when and where, is still up for debate. Gunn — who was reinstated as director following his firing in 2018 — made ominous remarks about Rocket Raccoon’s fate after fans declared they would riot if he was killed off.

dave bautista, drax
Credit: Marvel Studios

Now, these sentiments seem likely after all following Cooper’s latest remarks. Let it be said that the cast and crew, namely actors like Dave Bautista and Gunn himself have been clear that they see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as the end of this current Guardians era but it is still intriguing to understand where the other actors sit in all of this. In the latest Actors on Actors from Variety, Bradley Cooper sat down with Mahershala Ali to discuss their respective roles in Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley (2021) and Swan Song (2021).

On his supporting role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza (2021), Cooper said:

“The reason that I didn’t give up acting is Paul Thomas Anderson. When he called me to maybe be in his movie, Mahershala, I mean really, I think I’d open up a door in his movie. I’d do anything.”

bradley cooper sean gunn as rocket raccoon in avengers endgame guardians of the galaxy
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Confirms Scrapped Rocket and Groot ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Prequel

Cooper’s sentiments on the fact Anderson stopped him from quitting acting is telling in itself, but another statement from the actor leaves little to be desired. Upon discussing replacing Leonardo DiCaprio in del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Variety writes:

“‘Nightmare Alley’ was an interesting example of how insecure I am,” Cooper said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I still am the guy that wants to be in the group,’ because I had no intention of acting in anything other than what I’ve been writing. Leonardo DiCaprio fell out, and Guillermo del Toro came to me. I still remember thinking, ‘Oh wow, the guys that don’t hire me, they want to hire me?’ And then it was like, ‘Of course, I have to do it just because I’ve never been allowed into that group.’ It was insecurity and ego.”

bradley cooper sean gunn as rocket raccoon in guardians of the galaxy scanned by nova corp
Credit: Marvel Studios

Nestled amid Cooper’s own dissection of his own insecurity is a notable comment on his acting career and that he had “no intention of acting in anything other than what [he’d] been writing”. It seems when all is said and done, Rocket Raccoon’s days are numbered.

Only time will tell just where Gunn’s characters end up, but it would seem that this current chapter of the Guardians of the Galaxy is heading towards its emotional and climactic conclusion. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will also see Will Poulter star as the character Adam Warlock, joining returning cast members like Pom Klementieff (Mantis) and Sean Gunn (Kraglin Obfonteri)

What do you think of Bradley Cooper’s comments? Let us know in the comments down below!

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