James Gunn says he returned for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to tell Rocket's story

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Total Film exclusive
(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

James Gunn returns to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, though that wasn't always a certainty. But, as Gunn tells Total Film in the new issue, featuring Fast X on the cover, the major reason he came back to finish his trilogy is none other than Rocket Raccoon – and you can see an exclusive new image of the furry being in question above.

Following on from the events of the gang's Holiday Special, the makeshift family – still led by Chris Pratt's Peter 'Star-Lord' Quill – have an alt-timeline Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) to contend with, as well as fresh antagonists in the form of Will Poulter's Adam Warlock, and the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji, one of Gunn's cast members from The Suicide Squad TV spin-off Peacemaker). 

But really Vol. 3 belongs to the pint-sized breakout star who has been one of the series' most valuable assets. Genetically engineered humanoid raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) has past ties to the High Evolutionary, who's on a mission to forcibly evolve a super race, regardless of the cost.

Asked about the biggest challenge when it came to nailing the ensemble's character arcs, Gunn tells us, "The most important thing for me was Rocket's story, and then, following that, everybody else. Rocket is the secret protagonist of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and has always been the centre of it for me; and this is really fulfilling that. The reason I came back, and decided to do this movie, was because I really felt like Rocket's story needed to be told – and it was left hanging after Vol 2. So that's the most important thing." 

Gunn describes Vol. 3 as "totally self-standing… for the most part, it works as a story by itself." But, he says, "It's also the ending of a trilogy. The first movie is about the mother; the second movie is about the father; and the third movie is about the self. And that is what this journey is…" Time to buckle-up for one last ride with this bunch of a-holes. 

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 hits theaters this May 5. For more on the movie, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, March 30. Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Fast X issue

(Image credit: Total Film/Universal)

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Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.

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