Marvel’s newest release, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, focuses on Rocket’s origin story as Groot, Mantis, Drax, Nebula, Gamora, Kraglin, and Peter Quill work together to save his life. Accompanied by Quill’s throwback soundtracks, the team wrestles with the morality of animal experimentation and the consequences of perfectionism. They also learn about purpose, second chances, and embracing joy.
Help children explore these spiritual themes with one or more of the following activities:
Respect for all creatures. Animal cruelty and experimentation are part of Rocket’s backstory, and the movie shows animals suffering, which can be hard for children to process. Ask children: How did you feel when you heard about Rocket’s past? What did you feel when you saw animals being killed? How do you think animals should be treated? Research current products that rely on animal experimentation and pledge to support alternatives. Or encourage children to volunteer (with an adult) to care for abused animals at a local shelter.
Peace without perfectionism. The Evolutionator wants to create a perfect world where everyone gets along peacefully. He has created and destroyed several imperfect planets. Brainstorm with children reasons for keeping a world where imperfections exist (e.g., we learn from mistakes, new discoveries develop from problem-solving, four leaf clovers bring luck). Or wonder together about other ways to achieve peace (e.g., accepting responsibility for mistakes, working together to end discrimination, listening carefully to others’ perspectives).
Rocket’s purpose. Rocket was created as a test case and wasn’t supposed to survive. The idea that he is a failed experience haunts him. Lylla tells Rocket that he still has a purpose in the Galaxy. Encourage children to draw pictures of serious and silly possibilities for his purpose, such as Rocket saving someone’s life, running for Congress, or becoming a physical fitness trainer.
Soundtrack for life. Quill has a special song for every action, from flying his ship to spacewalking. His music helps him move through his day with energy and optimism. Invite children to create their own soundtrack. Identify key daily activities, such as waking up, getting dressed, doing homework, having dinner, or brushing teeth. Then select songs that fit each activity. Encourage children to use their playlist and notice how the music affects their mood.
Second chances? Adam Warlock wants to capture Rocket and kill the other Guardians. Yet Drax saves Adam when the ship is about to explode. When Adam asks Drax why, Drax says that everyone deserves a second chance. Ask children: Do you agree with Drax about second chances? Why (or why not)? What do you think Adam should do with his second chance?
Do a happy dance. At the end of the movie, Groot and Rocket begin to dance, and the rest of the inhabitants of Knowhere joyfully join in. Everyone has their own distinctive style of dance. Put on some music and encourage children to create their own dance moves. Twirl, stomp, twist, and shout with joy!