The animal rights organisation Peta has handed director James Gunn a Not a Number Award for his depictions of “animal testing cruelty” in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
*Warning – minor spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3*
In the Marvel franchise’s third instalment (released 5 May), viewers a shown a flashback of Rocket – the anthropomorphic raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper – being tortured by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).
The film’s villain performed extensive medical procedures on Rocket to turn him into a sentient, powerful weapon.
When Nebula (Karen Gillan) watches the recordings of Rocket’s past, she says they are worse than any torture Thanos had put her through.
“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,” Peta Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement shared Monday (8 May).
“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.”
The Independent has contacted Gunn’s representatives for comment.
In the release, which calls the film an “animal rights masterpiece”, Peta alleges that “like Rocket’s friends Lylla, Teefs, and Floor, most animals used in laboratories are killed after enduring a lifetime of suffering”.
The organisation recently condemned The Rings of Power after a horse died on the set of the Lord of the Rings spin-off.
A spokesperson for Amazon Studios shared that the horse died of a cardiac arrest. “It seems that living underground with the orcs is par for the course for the producers of The Rings of Power, because they have the option to use CGI, mechanical rigs and other humane methods,” Lange said in a statement at the time.
“Peta is calling on the show’s creators – and all other producers – to take on a new quest without using any real horses.
“If they can’t avoid exploiting animals for their art, they should find a new medium, because no one wants to see a spinoff for TV with torment as the theme.”