Sure, Rocket Raccoon is cool. You'll go to Hot Topic and buy his hoodies, you'll order a backpack shaped like him, or even build a version of him at a certain "make your own" toy workshop that further sells the title Trash Panda. But for all the glory that Sean Gunn earns with his unleashed motion capture furry fury, it's the role that lets the Gilmore Girls alum show his face that I'm here to sing the praises of today.
Let me tell you about Kraglin.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a franchise full of misfits, outcasts and damaged rogues whose most common unifying trait is a deep desire for loyalty, connection and family. Kraglin is the only one who exemplifies all of those things from the very beginning. From the second we meet him he's there, at the side of Yondu, serving as his first mate, his occasional moral compass, and even as his hype man. He's there to protect Yondu from those who would do him harm, even if sometimes that includes Yondu himself. And when he screws up and accidentally starts a whole mutiny? Well, he says he's sorry and is totally cool about it.
Kraglin is a solid ally, y'all.
We don’t fully know why Kraglin sticks so firmly to his captain. Maybe he sees himself as a son-like figure like Peter Quill and is jealous of the favor his pseudo-father shows to his sibling. Maybe he's the gay character that James Gunn alluded to already existing within the MCU and his devotion to Yondu is one of a simple John B. Macklemore variety, hoping one day the blue fin-headed pirate would see the treasure that lays right in front of him. Maybe he truly is as simple-minded as dialogue like "Captain's gotta teach stuff" would suggest and simply sees his loyalty and devotion as the natural course for a first mate such as himself to take. Or maybe James just feels like putting his brother in as many scenes as he can.
What we do know is that Kraglin is there. He's not there because he has a gem that can destroy all of Xandar. He's not there because his dad wants to use his light to grow glowing slime planets or something. He may possibly be there because he's in love with someone who requires hours of full body paint prior to shooting, you got me there, and maybe he’s a subtle gay-coded character just like some people insist Mantis is to shut me up when I get all activisty about representation on Twitter.
But shut up, the point is that he's there.
Sean Gunn may be Rocket's body, but if Yondu is an older grizzled version of Rocket, then Gunn's Kraglin is his Groot.