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Why Baby Groot Is More Important Than You Think

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was full of surprises, ranging from the foul-mouthed, gun-toting raccoon to the rocking soundtrack. One of the biggest (and happiest) surprises, though, came in the revelation that the treelike alien Groot had survived and was now being re-grown from a single twig.

Baby Groot appeared at the very end of the first movie to taunt Drax the Destroyer and dance his way into America's hearts (and store shelves). The teasers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 reveal that Groot remains in his baby form, still combining cuteness and mischief. It's easy to dismiss this character as little more than a marketing ploy, but the truth is that this tiny tree may be much more important than you think. Here are a few reasons why.

A Return to mad science?

In the first Vol. 2 teaser, Rocket Raccoon tries to instruct Baby Groot in the safe handling of some sort of explosive device. Rocket turns around to have a conversation with Star-Lord, and when he looks back at Baby Groot, the tiny tree is running off with the bomb while shouting his signature phrase, "I am Groot." Obviously, this moment is played for big laughs in the trailer, but Groot running off with a bomb may indicate he's returning to his roots (so to speak).

In the comics, Groot made his first appearance in 1959, in Tales to Astonish #13, and he'd be virtually unrecognizable to fans of his MCU incarnation. The Groot of this comic is massive, very talkative, and obsessed with what all the era's aliens were obsessed with: kidnapping humans and experimenting on them. Aside from the fact that he was a giant tree (and memorably defeated by termites), this Groot was a pretty cookie-cutter mad scientist alien. Writer-director James Gunn has said that Baby Groot has "a lot to learn" in this movie, and Baby Groot running off with the bomb may indicate a return to mad science...and a surprisingly villainous turn.

Friend or foe?

With the first Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn directed of one of the most successful superhero films, but he leans away from commercial impulses—deciding to do a live-action movie featuring a talking raccoon and a (barely) talking tree sounded utterly insane before it became a huge hit. Of course, they did become toy sensations, leading many people to think that bringing Baby Groot back is just a cheap way to cash in on the good vibes of his appearance at the end of the first movie...and to sell toys.

Gunn has clarified that the desire to sell "toys and figures and plushies" was not the "driving force" for Baby Groot, and that it served an important story point. What could this mean? Maybe Baby Groot might even oppose our heroes at some point. As mentioned before, Groot's first comic appearance featured him as a human-hating alien, and if Groot has been returned to a time before he developed his warmer and fuzzier side, then he may indulge those dark impulses. And it would likely tickle James Gunn's more perverse impulses to make the cutest and most marketable of characters into something that tries to kill our heroes.

More talkative?

There are few things Groot is more famous for than his simple catchphrase: "I am Groot." With the touching exception of the one time he said "we are Groot," the phrase "I am Groot" seems to be all he can say. Rocket can seemingly understand complex dialogue from his walking tree friend, but so far, he seems to be the only one.

It's entirely possible, though, that this will change with Baby Groot. According to Marvel Comics, Groot is actually saying a great many different words or phrases. However, everything comes out sounding like "I am Groot" thanks to the fact that his larynx has become hardened with age. Since Baby Groot is literally being regrown from a single twig, his body parts will have a relatively younger age. Theoretically, this means that Groot should be able to articulate a great many different words or phrases. It's possible that this is the reason Groot was so talkative in his very first Marvel Comics appearance and so monosyllabic when he appeared again decades later, as his larynx hardened over time.

New role models?

So far, we don't know much about Baby Groot from his brief appearances in the teasers for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. However, one unforgettable scene that's sure to launch a thousand different toys shows him wearing an adorable Star-Lord jacket. It's entirely possible that this is nothing but a visual gag, or possibly simply a reference to some of the Marvel comics in which the talking tree bothered to put on clothes. It's also possible, though, that this indicates that Baby Groot is now looking up to Star-Lord and possibly seeking to emulate him. This, too, may be a possible explanation for why Baby Groot seems to pay less attention to Rocket's instructions: he may be less interested in the theft and violence that Rocket specializes in and instead want to challenge the next galactic big bad to a dance-off like his new role model, Star-Lord.

A leadership role?

One of the interesting features of Groot's early characterization is that he wasn't supposed to be just any talking tree. Instead, he touted himself as a monarch of the imaginatively named Planet X. He made this claim in Tales to Astonish comic, and repeated it when the Guardians of the Galaxy found him. Eventually, though, Rocket Raccoon traveled to Planet X and learned Groot's dirty little secret: he was never a king. In fact, he was jailed for impersonating the true monarch. In the comics, Rocket manages to reunite with his buddy, but what does this have to do with the Baby Groot of the movie?

It's possible that he may have the desire to try to be a ruler again. He may settle for leading the team or have larger aspirations to rule a people or even a planet (maybe one of the reasons he runs off with powerful weaponry whenever he gets a chance). Hell, he may settle for no longer being Rocket's second banana anymore. Or maybe he just really, really likes bombs.