A huge number of people turned out to watch James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy this weekend, but one viewer was deservedly treated to a special private viewing. Bill Mantlo, the writer who created Rocket Raccoon with artist Keith Giffen for Marvel in 1976, was visited by Marvel executives and shown the movie at the care facility where he lives.

As we've reported previously in our Guardians Of The Galaxy coverage, Mantlo was the victim of a hit and run accident in 1992 that left him in need ongoing care and rehabilitation. His family has struggled to cover his medical bills, and fellow writer Greg Pak and others have helped solicit donations to support the Mantlo family.

According to Bill Mantlo's brother and legal guardian, Michael Mantlo, donations have also come in part from Marvel Comics. Back in February Michael told followers of his brother's Facebook page; "Marvel has compensated, is compensating, and will continue to compensate Bill well into the future for anything that he's entitled to compensation for. ... Bill's relationship with Marvel is EXCELLENT, and I wish for it to continue to be so." He also told Bleeding Cool that Marvel made "generous gestures" specifically with regard to Mantlo's creation of Rocket Raccoon, though specific details of that arrangement are subject to confidentiality agreements.

Now Marvel has made a more visible gesture of support for Mantlo, as Marvel attorney David Althoff and Marvel senior vice president of operations David Bogart visited Mantlo at his care home to show him the movie that brings his creation to CG-animated life. Michael Mantlo later wrote on the Facebook page:

*****WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DAY FOR BILL MANTLO*****! Marvel hooked Bill up with a PRIVATE VIEWING of "Guardians Of The Galaxy", and my wife Liz and my beloved cousin Jean assisted Bill throughout, enabling him to sit back, relax and relish in the AWESOMENESS of what is going to be, in my humble opinion, Marvel's GREATEST AND MOST SUCCESSFUL FILM EVER! Bill thoroughly enjoyed it, giving it his HIGHEST COMPLIMENT (the BIG "THUMB'S UP!"), and when the credits rolled, his face was locked into the HUGEST SMILE I HAVE EVER SEEN HIM WEAR (along with one or two tears of joy)! This was the GREATEST DAY OF THE LAST 22 YEARS for me, our family, and most importantly, BILL MANTLO!

Michael Mantlo also posted a photograph of Bill's credit at the end of the movie:

It's worth mentioning that, whatever support Bill Mantlo has received thus far, the costs of his continued care remain high. If you enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy this past weekend, or if you intend to enjoy it in the coming weeks, please consider donating at least the equivalent of your ticket price to the Mantlo family to show your appreciation for his wonderful work.