Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Suggests Groot’s Evolution Is Far From Over

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Suggests Groot’s Evolution Is Far From Over

This post contains mild spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."

The character of Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), while finding his print origins in the Marvel Comics of 1960, was first introduced to film audiences in James Gunn's 2014 film "Guardians of the Galaxy." Groot was an intelligent, eight-foot humanoid tree, able to rapidly grow roots and branches from his body in the heat of battle. His only line of dialogue, repeated in all situations was "I am Groot," a phrase that those close to him could easily decipher (very much the way human characters respond to R2-D2's beeping in the "Star Wars" movies). The apparently elderly Groot served as the titular team's "muscle" character, while his best friend Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) served as the brains. 

During the climax of the first "Guardians" movie, Groot and several other members of the team found themselves near an explosion. Groot, having grown close to his team members over the course of the film, surprised them by saying "We are Groot" and forming his barky body into a protective shield around everyone. The blast destroyed Groot, but saved everyone else. It was a noble sacrifice moment for a heroic character. 

Rather than let the character perish, however, the filmmakers found a clever way to immediately resurrect him. Since Groot is a tree, after all, Rocket planted one of his seeds in a flower pot and a new Groot grew almost immediately. In "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2," Groot was now an adorable toddler version of his old self, requiring parenting from the other Guardians and looking imminently toyetic. In "Avengers: Infinity War," Groot was an adolescent. In "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3," he is once again an adult. 

He will, it seems, continue to grow.

Groot, The Ceiba Tree

The version of Groot seen in Gunn's latest opus is not the tall, lanky, tree-like figure of the first "Guardians," but a broad-chested, muscular plant with enormous fists and large, bark-encrusted biceps. It's not explained how a tree can work out its quads, but clearly, Groot has done that. Either Groot decided this time around that he wanted to be more buff, or he was once buff in his previous incarnation, but felt he didn't need to be vain about his tree physique in his old age and decided to slim down and look more tree-like. 

An epilogue for "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3," however, implies that this new version of Groot would continue to grow in size. After the central action of the film has been completed, and a new version of the Guardians has formed (with Rocket as their leader), Groot remained on board as the muscle. However, in a surprise reveal, Groot is revealed to be several feet taller, branchier, and wider than he ever was before. He now looks like a cross between an Ent from "Lord of the Rings" and the Incredible Hulk. Whether or not Groot's change in size was a personal choice or not was not revealed. 

Regardless, the new, outsized Groot implies that the character has a lot more growing to do. In 2016, Marvel author Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez declared that Groot -- while hailing from planet Taluhnia -- was a in fact humanoid version of a ceiba tree, a species of plant native to South America. Ceiba trees, once considered sacred to multiple pre-Colombian Mesoamerican cultures, can grow up to 230 feet in height. If Groot intends to match his distant cousin flora, then he'll be Godzilla-sized before we know it.

King Groot

Some sharper-eyed, deep-cut Marvel fans might also place the outsize Groot next to a character precedent laid down in a piece of expanded Marvel lore. In the 2014 video game "Marvel Contest of Champions," players select their favorite heroes and force them to face off in a head-to-head, "Street Fighter"-style brawler. If anyone has ever wanted to watch Wolverine fight, say, Doctor Strange, this was their opportunity. 

Groot is a selectable player in "Champions," but is doctored up to be more powerful. Tall and Hulk-muscular, Groot is credited as King Groot, a character that had not appeared in any extant Marvel Comics. King Groot has since made his way into various toy lines, but still hasn't been granted a story on the page. With Gunn's new film, however, it's possible that King Groot will continue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an increasingly powerful member of the Guardians. It seems that if one has an angry tree on their side, and one that can fire guns and grow branches at a moment's notice, it would be quite an asset on the battlefield. 

This is, of course, assuming that the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies will continue. Gunn has famously left Marvel Studios to work on superhero movies based on DC Comics for Warner Bros. An after-credits chyron at the end of "Vol. 3" declared that the character of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) will return, but makes no such promises for any of the other characters. The Guardians will continue, it seems, just without James Gunn, the series' cinematic originator. 

The fate of King Groot remains up in the air. 

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