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Over the course of 11 years and 23 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has killed off plenty of characters in tear-inducing moments, from Agent Phil Coulson in The Avengers to Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame. Even the MCU stars themselves have not been immune to getting misty-eyed. When presented with the question of which sendoff made him cry more, Tony Stark’s or that of his own character, Yondu, Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker revealed why Yondu Udonta’s death was particularly affecting, saying:
I cried in Yondu a little bit because my son was weeping. I was crying because he was weeping. I wasn't crying because I was sad -- I was happy to give my life to my son. But I was weeping because he was weeping.
The death of Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made Michael Rooker cry the most of any MCU death, more than even the heroic end of Tony Stark, but not for the reasons you might think. Michael Rooker didn’t shed tears specifically for his character and the death that seemingly signaled the end of his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; he cried because of how Yondu’s death affected the other characters.
Now this may be a little unclear from Michael Rooker’s answer to TooFab, but since the actor has two daughters, who he's presumably referencing here when talking about his ‘son’ is Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill. Michael Rooker shed tears when watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 because of how Peter Quill reacted to Yondu’s death, which saw Yondu sacrifice his life to save his surrogate son.
In that moment at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Peter Quill truly realizes what he meant to Yondu and what Yondu meant to him, understanding that the family you choose is just as important as blood. Peter Quill was devastated at Yondu’s death and his eyes welled up with tears, and so too, it seems, did Michael Rooker’s.
Michael Rooker seemed to identify with Yondu and was happy to seem him sacrifice himself to save Star-Lord, as most parents would surely be to save their children. However, that still meant seeing his son in pain, and that’s enough to turn on the waterworks. It’s not exactly like sympathetic laughter where you cry simply because someone else is crying, but it’s similar to that with the added emotional element of Peter being Yondu’s surrogate son.
While Michael Rooker’s Yondu may not be nearly as important a character as Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, those two arguably had the most glorious and tear-jerking sendoffs. Other characters, like Quicksilver, Loki and Black Widow, died in moments where there was no time for the characters or the audience to stop and grieve. Tony Stark and Yondu both had characters gathering to say goodbye and remember them, allowing their deaths to really sink in and the grieving for the characters and the audience to take place.
In the world of comic books, death is not always a permanent state of affairs, so many have wondered if we could see Michael Rooker’s Yondu back in some fashion in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Writer-director James Gunn has indicated that he won’t bring Yondu back to life in the film. So barring a flashback or some kind of hallucination, his time is done.
We will, however, see James Gunn and Michael Rooker teaming once again for The Suicide Squad, which hits theaters on August 6, 2021. Right now, Michael Rooker is starring in Blumhouse's Fantasy Island, which is now playing. For other movies arriving this year, check out our 2020 Release Schedule.