English Draft – Nick Gibney
Traditional concepts of masculinity and the film industry have regulary gone hand in hand. The film ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 2’,(2017) directed by James Gunn, both confirms and challenges this idea. Rocket the Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, is one character from the film who demonstrates the stereotypical male persona. Rocket is known for his malevolent behaviour and sinister sense of humour. He uses these to try and cover up his deep sadness and the emotions he actually has for his teammates.
Throughout both of the “Guardians Of The Galaxy” films Rocket is almost always displayed as a malicious and cynical character. His sense of humour is dark and twisted, as can be seen when he asks Quill to get him a cybernetic eye when it is not even going to be used in the plan. Rocket is always spiteful and cruel to pretty much anyone, except Groot, for no apparent reason. An example is when he steals the 'Anulax batteries' from the Sovereign people because "They were really easy to steal' and 'You saw how that high priestess talked down to us.”. He steals expensive batteries based on his feelings that the Sovereign race and their queen were condescending in their speech and actions. These reasons are not seen again in the film, they were most likely an excuse for stealing the batteries.
Camera angles, lighting and music/audio are also influential as they give an extra edge to Rocket’s character, for example, the camera is usually positioned below him to try and make him look tough, to try and accentuate his inflated masculine nature. However, in the scene where he stops Gamora from leaving the spaceship, the camera was positioned in a low shot to try and convey the apparent sudden change in his emotions. Another example in the film is the music used around Rocket. For the most part, the music inspires a crazed want for action, which adds a psychopathic flair to his already messed-up subconscious. One possibility for Rocket's overly masculine, tough and unstable behaviour could be the anxiety and nervousness caused by not knowing what he really is.
Rocket was significantly altered in a scientific laboratory and grew not knowing any family or if he even has any. This might be one of the factors of his deep sadness. It is summarised best by his fellow Guardian Yondu "I know you play like you’re the meanest and the hardest but actually you’re the most scared of them all..." and "You push away anyone who's willing to put up with you because just a little bit of love reminds how big that hole in your heart is.". This again could be because he of what happened in the lab, he never had a family, and therefore no one has ever loved him, and he hasn't loved anyone back. His coping mechanism to this big hole in his heart is to create a resilient and tenacious mask for him to hide behind. With that mask, he never had shown emotions of compassion and sympathy to anyone, so that he is not reminded of that past suffering. However, towards the end of the film, Rocket starts to show these emotions most likely in response to Yondu's speech.
From the final battle with Ego, Rocket starts to display more stereotypical feminine emotions towards his friends. This is quite a large change from how noticeable they were at the beginning of the film. For example, when Gamora wanted to go after Quill, who is still fighting but believed to be dead, Rocket stops her. He says, “I’m sorry, I can only afford to lose one friend today”. This line is also said with an incredible amount of guilt and sadness, partly due to incredible acting from Cooper, the camera angle and the music. The camera angle changes from a far shot to a medium shot while the music and audio almost completely cuts out. This gives the effect of being something heartfelt and deep, which it turns out to be. Some of this sadness in his voice may be down to how he never really opened up his feelings of friendship to Quill. The fact, the Quill is thought to be dead makes Rocket ashamed about this. The speech that Yondu gave him must have really made him look inside, which in turn started Rocket down the path of opening up.
In conclusion, Rocket Raccoon is an illustration of how the film industry has been a source for the concept of excessive masculinity for years. Rocket is portrayed as spiteful so he can cover over a hole in his psyche, however towards the end of the movie he reveals his true self. James Gunn achieved this by using camera angles, lighting and music to shape the viewers understanding of Rocket’s personality.