Lessons From…Guardians of the Galaxy

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet? If not, seriously what is wrong with you?! Here’s a teaser:

Alright, now, go and watch it, multiple times. I’ll wait…

…Good, huh?

So, as always, I will try not to spoil anything major for you, but be aware that with any discussion there might be some SPOILERS ahead. Though, to be fair, not any of too much relevance or narrative negation.

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This film is a big, summer blockbuster Marvel movie, so it has the inherent good guys versus bad guys story with a final epic space battle. As well, like the Avengers film. it centers on a ragtag group of oddballs that must come together against a massive threat. Unlike the Avengers, however, these are not quite the noble superheroes. Instead, we are presented with outlaws, criminals, and, in short, “losers”.

Yet, it is these individuals’s baggage and pasts that make them interesting, compelling, and endearing to the audience. None so much as Groot and Rocket, the two anthropomorphic lovable miscreants (a living tree and raccoon). To be honest, this is a bit of nepotism on my part because Rocket is my favorite character of the entire film. He is pretty much my spirit animal.

I feel your pain furry friend.

I feel your pain furry friend.

These characters develop and progress throughout the course of the film but there is one moment of introspection by Rocket that I want to focus on. In the latter half of the film as a result of alcohol (aren’t most truths discovered by booze?) Rocket goes off on a drunken rant about his creation.

“Well, I didn’t ask to get made! I didn’t ask to be torn apart and put back together over and over and turned into some little monster!”

Here we have the truth of Rocket’s past and the demons that occupy his mind and soul. Rocket’s past gave him his superior intellect, weapons mastery, and ability to speak and walk beyond that of a simple raccoon. However, it also made him a freak and an outcast.

At first, Rocket is content to accept this label the world has placed upon him. He uses his gifts and outsider status to make a place in the galaxy even if the galaxy won’t allow it. Of course, his anger and resentment toward others also result in arrests and various criminal activities. If he is cast as a freak, he will gladly play the part for a time. Eventually, being a loner, with a talking plant bodyguard, is not enough for the intrepid raccoon.

His involvement with his fellow criminals (Gamora, Drax, Peter Quill, Groot) change the priorities of Rocket. He goes from being a petty gun for hire to a hero and someone willing to fight alongside friends and allies for a greater cause. Of course, he retains his criminal, nonchalant attitude and demeanor, but now there is a bit of morality and judgement attached. This change was not a happy accident nor a simple reaction to circumstances; Rocket made a choice beyond his origins. Through this choice he elevated himself and his comrades.

Which brings us to today’s lesson: We are more than our environments, our pasts, our mistakes. It is not our circumstances that define us, but how we react to and deal with our circumstances. Yes. Upbringing, background, and environment influence who we are greatly, but ultimately these can be overcome. It’s not easy and takes a tremendous amount of effort, but we can choose to go beyond our humble origins and be greater than the sum of our parts.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

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