Our next Guardians of the Galaxy member may have you thinking you’re barking up the wrong tree, but rest assured, you’re not. It’s Groot! That’s right, Groot, the talking, walking member of the Guardians who only has three words in his vocabulary: “I AM GROOT.” Played by Vin Diesel of Fast and the Furious and Riddick fame, Groot promises to be one of the more exciting to watch characters of the team as he’s a 12 foot tall piece of shrubbery and created completely from computer graphics. Groot is actually the oldest of the Guardians, both in age and in comic history as he was introduced extremely early on in Marvel’s history. Hit the jump for more info on the powerhouse of the Guardians/mode of transportation for Rocket Raccoon and click here if you missed our profile of Star Lord (Chris Pratt).
I AM GROOT! (Origin)
Groot, also known as the “Monarch of Planet X”, originally appeared in Marvel’s “Tales to Astonish” in 1960, and much like Star-Lord, hadn’t had many appearances in the funny books since that time, only recently making his return. Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers originally, Groot hit the scene as more of a monster than a superhero. Hailed as the “Monster from Planet X”, Groot terrorized the populace and the United States army sent wave after wave of troops to bring down the tree, who at the time could say more than “I am Groot”, cackling maniacally as he used his limbs to knock down buildings. You have to understand, that in that time, superhero books and monster/horror comics were moving together hand in hand. “Tales from the Crypt,” “Vault of Horror,” and many others filled the news stand alongside Marvel and DC stories. In order to get their own piece of the pie, Marvel would sometimes create monsters of their own to populate their stories, such as Fing Fang Foom and Zzaxz who would then go on to fight heroes in the Marvel universe proper.
Groot, like many other monsters of his ilk, hit the earth in an asteroid and threatened a small town, taking control of the plants and trees near the civilization to lay his claim. The monster was defeated by a lone scientist who threw a bunch of termites, because really, when you’re fighting a giant tree, the only way to go is termites. Believed dead, Groot appeared years later on the Collector’s ship, who is played by Benicio Del Toro in the upcoming film, and went toe to toe with the Hulk. It was only until he reappered in 2006 along with Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon in the Annihilation series that he became the lovable flora we now know him as, only able to say “I am Groot” and forming a strong bond with Rocket.
I AM GROOT! (Abilities)
Since Groot was once a mild-mannered teenager bitten by a radioactive sycamore, he found himself granted with the proportional strength, speed, and agility of a tree. Just kidding, but the basic rules still apply. Groot has super strength and acts as a carrier for Rocket, launching the gun-toting raccoon into enemies and then stomping himself a path of destruction as well. Groot, in his earlier appearances, had the ability to communicate and control flora around him, commanding them to terrorize the countryside, and still employs these powers from time to time in his journeys. He also has the worthwhile ability of being able to reconstitute himself regardless of the damage that befalls him. Should Groot be blown to bits by a Kree laser beam or turned to ash by a bomb put together by Thanos, the walking tree only needs to have one of his friends place whatever’s left of him into a potted plant. After a little bit of down time, Groot will be better than ever, growing back to his original size. It’s during these times that Rocket acts as the courier for Groot, having the once-giant beast ride on one of his shoulders into battle.
Surprisingly, Groot may very well be the most intelligent of the Guardians of the Galaxy, as his royal lineage (he is a monarch after all) came with years and years of study in numerous intergalactic fields. “I am Groot” is actually a saying Groot employs as a sort of higher form of communication, so remember that when you’re yelling this to your friends following the film, you’re actually being smart!
I AM GROOT! (The Wooden Giant)
In attempting to find the perfect voice for Groot, as clearly the lumbering force would need to be portrayed entirely through the help of computer graphics on the big screen, you would be hard pressed to find one better than Vin Diesel. Diesel has experience with voicing large, misunderstood brutes in the form of the Iron Giant. If you haven’t seen The Iron Giant, stop what you’re doing, and watch it immediately to not only witness a great, unique movie, but to get a better idea of Vin Diesel’s method when it comes to voice acting. The final scene in Iron Giant is something of a tearjerker, and it’s Diesel’s portrayal of the Giant that really hammer home the emotional impact, which I’m sure we’ll see come across in the Guardians film.
One of the most notable aspects of his portrayal of Groot is that during his recording sessions, Diesel is on record for asking director, James Gunn, to inform him of any given situation which his character would be involved in whenever he spoke his famous line. This way, Diesel would give a different inflection for each and every time he said the words, “I am Groot”, giving Groot a more nuanced and emotional role. With the movie right around the corner, might want to get all of the “I am Groot”s out of your system now, because I’m sure you’ll be hearing it plenty from folks after the movie has dropped.