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I Am Groot Just Received A Dark New Meaning In The Marvel Universe

*Contain spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 by Marvel Comics*

The Guardians of the Galaxy's Groot is turning into a villain, as the usually lovable Guardians of the Galaxy hero is officially the new big bad of the cosmic superteam. And not only that, but Groot just gave his iconic "I am Groot" catchphrase a much darker meaning as he shows off his horrifying new form.

A longtime member of the Guardians, Groot's backstory initially paints the character as a villain during his Marvel Comics debut. However, Groot has been reimagined as a hero over time, including being the heart of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" in James Gunn's MCU films. But now, he's become a surprise villain in the new "Guardians of the Galaxy" series by Jaxson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Kev Walker, and Matt Hollingsworth from Marvel Comics. 

With Star-Lord, Nebula, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis on a planet facing immediate danger, they try to evacuate the world before a major threat arrives via Groot. Unfortunately, the heroes can only watch in horror as Groot decimates the planet while they try to save those stuck on it, showing not even one of the team's most important members may be able to be redeemed.

Groot's new role changes the hero in a big way

In the new "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 by Marvel Comics, the titular superteam finds themselves on the Planet of Galilee IV. The wasteland planet is home to Corplexian refugees, who came to the world six years prior, just after Galactus destroyed their homeworld. Star-Lord and his team work to convince the planet's inhabitants to leave as danger is imminent. Sadly, "Grootfall" is unleashed, and the heroes can't save everyone from their former ally's wrath. In a chilling moment showing Groot's new powers as a giant, fiery threat, Mantis tells Peter Quill that the tree-like monster caught the second containment ship holding those they were trying to save. The comic reveals the vessel was impaled with Groot's branches, and his fiery attack brutally killed those inside.

The deadly scene completely changes the meaning of Groot's iconic "I am Groot" catchphrase. In the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Groot only says and is understood by uttering the phrase, "I am Groot." While his teammates can decipher what he means, Groot's lack of vocabulary is a crucial trait for the hero in live-action movies. It's what makes his eventual "we are Groot" line while sacrificing himself to save the team that much more impactful. However, in the comics, "they are Groot" makes his line darker and much more literal. As the line is uttered by Mantis while telling Peter about the horrors happening below, Groot literally makes those he kills part of him as his roots and branches overtake the planet and its people. For all intents and purposes, they are Groot and have no choice in the matter as his being engulfed them.

Can the Guardians comeback from the betrayal of a team-member?

The new "Guardians of the Galaxy" series hasn't revealed the cause of what turned Groot from a beloved teammate into a deadly monster, but "Grootfall" has flipped the usual hero into villain status. Seeing him massacre innocents is hard to stomach. Burning people alive, impaling innocents with branches, and murdering anyone who stood in his way, shows that Groot might not be able to be redeemed. Ultimately, his new form and powers cross a line few characters have ever returned from. So, unless someone or something else is secretly in charge of Groot, and his deadly actions aren't of his own volition, it isn't easy to see a path for him to return as a hero.

Interestingly, the current Guardians are missing another member besides Groot, as the whereabouts of Rocket Raccoon are unknown. Given his close relationship with Groot, Rocket might have had a role in his transformation. Perhaps, he's ashamed of what Groot has become and can't face him. Or, Groot has taken him as one of his hostages as he tries to burn down the Guardians. Regardless, Rocket's absence as Groot becomes a major villain is notable. Will Rocket be the one who helps Groot remember his past self? It appears there will be another domino to fall before readers know what caused Groot's drastic transformation. Something terrible seems to have happened to the entire Guardians team, from Groot to Star-Lord, to Rocket Raccoon.

Readers can see Groot's jaw-dropping transformation into a villain in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 by Jaxson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Kev Walker, and Matt Hollingsworth from Marvel Comics, which is in comic book stores and online retailers now!