James Gunn Named PETA’s 2023 Person of the Year

The animal rights group cited Gunn’s “animal-rights masterpiece” as well as his personal advocacy.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has named DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn as its person of the year for 2022, in recognition of his work on the Marvel Studios blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3. The animal-rights charity is honoring Gunn not just for the film — which depicts a science-fiction version of animal testing that takes the concept and its moral cost to an extreme — but for “speaking up for animals in all facets of his life.” Even beyond making Guardians vol. 3 into “Rocket’s story,” Gunn has long been very public with his affection for animals.

In a blog post, PETA called Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 “a thought-provoking narrative about the horrors of experiments on animals.” The movie centered on the backstory of Rocket Raccoon, who audiences learned had been taken at a very young age and experimented on by the villain The High Evolutionary.

PETA, while controversial for a number of reasons, remains the biggest animal-rights group in North America. The group, founded in 1980, has a long history of working together with Hollywood stars to create provocative public service announcement campaigns, including a series of nude portraits in their long-running “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” series. They have also dipped their toes into the edutainment space a few times, releasing documentaries and even a concert video featuring well-known vegetarian Paul McCartney.

You can see a video that PETA put together celebrating Guardians below.

Besides Guardians, Gunn was honored for his commitment to pet adoption. The “Adopt, don’t shop” slogan Gunn has used when posting about his rescue dogs is the same one PETA uses on its website.

In Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 our beloved band of misfits are settling into life on Knowhere. But it isn’t long before their lives are upended by the echoes of Rocket’s turbulent past,” the synopsis reads. “Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him on a dangerous mission to save Rocket’s life-a mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.

The movie now in theaters, and is available on disc and most digital platforms.

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