PETA Hails ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ for ‘Unflinching Advocacy’ of Animal Rights

Activist org says Rocket Raccoon’s origin story bears shocking parallels to real-life animal abuse

Rocket Raccoon in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" (Credit: Marvel)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” has earned both rave reviews from Marvel fans and shocked reactions to the horrifying flashbacks depicting Rocket Raccoon’s dark past. For the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), those flashbacks make the film the “best animal rights film of the year.”

“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,” praised PETA senior VP Lisa Lange in a statement to media. “PETA is celebrating this as the best animal rights film of the year for helping audiences see animals as individuals and suggesting that just because we can experiment on them doesn’t mean that we should.”

While many of the unethical and abusive experiments that the Marvel film’s villain, The High Evolutionary, puts Rocket and his friends through are based in sci-fi, PETA says that some of the flashback scenes are rooted in real life.

As an example, PETA points to the code name that the High Evolutionary gives Rocket and tattoos on his body: 89P13. The activist organization says that similar number designations are given to animals that are used by scientists in labs “to dissociate from the sentient being they’re tormenting.” And when Rocket is strapped down by the High Evolutionary for the painful process that begins his traumatic road to becoming a Guardian of the Galaxy, he is locked into a restraint system used in actual labs on primates.

“Like Rocket’s friends Lylla, Teefs, and Floor, most animals used in laboratories are killed after enduring a lifetime of suffering. They’re held in cramped cages, often alone, and mutilated, infected with diseases, purposely bred to suffer from debilitating conditions, forced to endure multiple painful procedures, locked into restraint devices, bombarded with stimuli for prolonged periods, and frequently denied adequate food, water, and pain relief,” PETA said.

“And even though the National Institutes of Health spends nearly $20 billion per year in taxpayer funding on animal testing, studies have shown that 95% of all new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials because they don’t work or are dangerous.”

The flashbacks build to a climax where Rocket confronts the abusive scientist who is both responsible for putting him on the road to becoming a hero and putting him and his friends through unspeakable pain, resolving in the end to prevent other animals that he was once just like from suffering the same fate. It’s an ending that PETA praises for “reminding viewers that all animals deserve a life of freedom under the open sky rather than confinement to laboratory cages.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is in theaters now.