In “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Rocket is still slow to accept that he’s even a raccoon, though we see in flashbacks how the High Evolutionary genetically modified him and other animals so they could talk in the anthropomorphic Disney tradition. This allows for moments of sheer ridiculousness, as in the scene above, when Rocket’s walrus friend says, “I think my name shall be Teefs,” or his rabbit friend says, “Me be called Floor, because me is lying on floor.”

According to The Escapist, this also plays into the “tug of war over the question of what Rocket is supposed to be: a product or a person,” as “Vol. 3” works through its subtext about James Gunn’s struggle as an artist wedded to the corporate-minded Disney (the parent company of Marvel Studios). In his New York Times comments, Gunn himself cited the ending scene where Rocket frees other raccoons as the turning point for his character:

“At the end of ‘Vol. 3,’ in that moment where he accepts himself by taking those raccoons and then starts looking around the cages, that’s the moment to me where he sees, ‘Oh my God, everything is me. We’re all a part of this universe, and every life has purpose, meaning, and is worthy of respect.’ That’s who he is now: He’s not a bad guy, he’s strictly a good guy.”

By the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Rocket finally embraces his true nature as a raccoon, hero, and person of sorts, not just a piece of intellectual property. It’s a kinder, gentler Rocket Raccoon who is willing to spare the High Evolutionary’s life, in keeping with the movie’s theme of accepting oneself and others.

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