An overarching theme in the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, without going into spoiler details, is family. With family comes backstory and tragic pasts. We were given the basic backstories of all the Guardians in the first movie, but Vol. 2 goes in deep for all of our favorite characters – all except one. And he’s arguably the most popular one as well. He is Groot.
Groot in the Movies
So what do we know about Groot? Well, we know he’s a kick-butt living tree as an adult and an adorable dancing twig as a baby. That’s enough for a movie mascot, but not much for a character. We also know he’s able to hold conversations, even if all he says is “I am Groot.” He’s also basically immortal, as long as one of his twigs survives. Alright, that’s a bit better. During the course of the first movie, we are told that Groot is essentially Rocket’s ‘hired muscle.’ While he does act in this capacity, we do see that Groot and Rocket are much closer than just a professional relationship, especially when the tough-as-nails Rocket sheds tears over Groot’s supposed death. And yet, through all of this, we are never told anything more about his past outside of Rocket. We don’t even know how he and Rocket met.
Well, the only answer to this problem is to go to the movies’ source material: comic books.
Groot in the Comics
It might surprise you to know that the first appearance of our sweet, domicile, flower-giving Groot was as a villainous alien tree monster. He also has a much higher vocabulary, as right in the cover he proclaims, “I am Groot the Invincible! Who dares to defy me?!” In Tales to Astonish #13, the ‘monster from Planet X’ is a tree-absorbing monster sent to capture a human town for scientific study. He’s eventually brought down by a scientist with specially-bred termites that eat him alive.
In more recent comics, Groot’s origins overlook this little incident, though he is still a science experiment from Planet X. His species, called ‘Flora colussus,’ was engineered by alien scientists for whatever mad scientists want to do with living trees. However, he preferred the company of mammals to his fellow saplings, even killing another sapling to save the animal it was beating to death. This, coupled with him releasing a human test subject because he felt sorry for her, led Groot’s scientists to exile him off the planet.
He set off to explore the galaxies, only to find himself captured in Kree space and imprisoned. It’s in prison that he eventually meets Rocket Racoon, and they grow a quick bond. Not long after, they’re assigned to a covert team led by our very own Starlord, and thus we have the Guardians of the Galaxy.
It’s also in this origin that Groot’s vocabulary is limited to “I am Groot” due to living trees having very hard larynges.
The Different Groots
It should also be noted while Groot in the comics is said to have mellowed with age, he’s still more powerful and more violent than his original movie counterpart. His powers include being able to grow to any size, so while movie Groot is roughly 8 feet tall, comics Groot can be anywhere from 15 to 40 feet tall. And fairly nightmare-inducing, a la the image on the right.
Baby Groot’s first appearance, as we know him, actually originated with the original 2014 film. He didn’t appear in the comics until Groot’s solo run in 2015. Before this, Groot’s regeneration was always shown just as a mini twig version of his adult form, sometimes in a plant pot. The reason for this change, aside from trying to have the comics mirror the movies, is the same reason Baby Groot is so heavily featured in all of the advertising for Vol. 2: no one, not even Marvel, expected just how popular Baby Groot’s end credits scene in the first movie would be.
You can see more of Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in theaters now. Trust me, he’s worth seeing.
Featured image from IMDb.com