From Spiderman to Batman, heroes with animal characteristics don’t phase us at all. In fact, while Phase 2 for Marvel Studios has an impressive line up already, including Iron Man 3, Thor 2: The Dark World, and Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, they also have an Ant-Man movie in the works. Sure, Ant-Man is raising some eyebrows (mine included), but it isn’t as foreign an idea than the lesser mainstream heroes making up the Guardians of the Galaxy.
But what is making people so interested (and skeptical) about these space guardians? Space shouldn’t be too big an issue–I mean, we already have a god in Thor and a whole new world there, right? And we’ve likely already been introduced to the main villain of the Guardians: Thanos, the purple alien seen post-credits of The Avengers. Is it that the entire team (minus one) isn’t human? Is it the thought that perhaps an alien team of superheroes won’t appeal to the mainstream mass of moviegoers that Marvel has won over? That the names Star-Lord, Groot, Drax the Destroyer, and Gamora aren’t the household heroes that make up Marvel’s universe? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s one particular member of the Guardians that people can’t stop talking about: the anthropomorphic military strategist Rocket Raccoon.
Humans bitten by radioactive spiders and men in bat-inspired suits is one thing…. but a space raccoon?
I’ll admit, I’m not sure how people will react to having a gun-toting alien raccoon hero in the same universe as The Avengers. Yes, the Marvel movies are funny, but they are still serious enough to appeal to adults. How will people react to an animated super raccoon interacting with real-life humans? Only time will tell! Until then, here are three other awesome anthropomorphic animals in the world of geekdom who are well-loved and well-known by both kids and adults (and interact with humans).
The iconic blue hedgehog with bright red sneakers and a need for speed and gold coins might appeal more to children, but has also managed to remain a staple nostalgic hero for adult audiences. One of the most recognizable video game characters of all time, Sonic has also run across the TV screen in more than one cartoon series, and has jumped across the pages of manga and comic pages. And while Sonic’s companions over the years have all been anthropomorphic creatures as well, their enemy is Dr. Robotnik, aka Eggman–a brilliant, but mad, human scientist who happens to be unfortunately egg-shaped.
Perhaps not nearly as well-known as the others on this list, the armored polar bear from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is a fierce warrior and aides human protagonist Lyra Belacqua in her quest. For literary fans, Iorek might just be one of the most memorable, ass-kicking anthropomorphic characters. He’s not only ridiculously strong, but a master metalsmith capable of crafting armor better than any human can. He even becomes king of the Panserbjørner, and if that isn’t badass enough, is voiced by Ian McKellen (Gandalf AND Magneto) in the movie adaptation of the first book, The Golden Compass.
I really couldn’t keep this foursome out of this list. These mutated turtles fight against human villain Shredder and his Foot Clan. From animated cartoons, to live-action movies, to their original (and darker) comic book roots, these turtles are quite possibly the most well-known anthropomorphic heroes of all time. Their popularity and huge fan base led to multiple rip-offs, including The Battletoads and Biker Mice From Mars.
Will Rocket Raccoon become the next anthropomorphic critter to worm his way into people’s hearts? Considering Marvel’s current track record of awesome, I think it’s possible for James Gunn to make even the furriest of the alien team a character people will love.