Baby Groot is back and better than ever. After making his debut as an adorable dancing sprig in the first movie’s post-credits scene, Baby Groot returns — now sapling-sized — in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But all that cuteness comes at a price. The Groot we grew to know and love in Guardians of the Galaxy is gone forever. You see, Groot is dead.
Baby Groot Is Not the Same Groot
“He’s not the same Groot,” Guardians writer-director James Gunn explained in a recent Facebook Live chat with fans. “He doesn’t have the same memories. He does not have the memories of adult Groot,” Gunn emphasized.
In February 2018, Gunn confirmed that Baby Groot is Groot’s son, a separate entity.
First Groot is dead. Baby Groot is his son.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 27, 2018
This is contradictory to what Marvel honcho Kevin Feige had previously stated. He’d compared Baby Groot to Spock at the end of Star Trek: The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home.
Since Gunn is the writer-director of Guardians 2, he’s the authority here. And his comments seem to confirm that Groot’s sacrificial “we are Groot” moment in the first movie is meant to stick. And we won’t be getting him back. While that’s certainly sad, it’s also poignant. It means that Groot truly gave up his life for his friends, a choice which now has meaningful permanence.
The idea of a Baby Groot being a brand new character is a fun prospect. Expect more than a few moments where his childlike state is played for laughs. Groot/Baby Groot voice actor Vin Diesel has hinted at this in recent interviews.
“I always think of the Groot that we saw on the first Guardians as a college-level Groot, so he’s not fully grown yet, but he’s a man,” Diesel told EW. “Now we’re gonna see this goofy, adorable, baby Groot thing running around the screen and just learning as he goes.”
Groot’s Death Is Different in the Comics
In the comics, Groot has been seemingly killed multiple times, but it’s not been treated with the same sense of finality. In the Annihilation: Conquest storyline, Marvel readers may recall that Groot seemingly died twice. He was killed while buying Star-Lord’s team some time as they fought their way through the Phalanx. And he died once again when he purposely set himself on fire in order to destroy the Babel Spire.
Each time Groot has “died” in the comics, he’s lived on in the form in the form of a sprig which later grew back to full size. That’s not that different than the movies. But in the comics, there’s never been any implication that the Groot who grew back isn’t the same Groot as before. That’s not the way it is in the movies, according to Gunn. And it certainly seems that the original Groot is dead.
Long Live Baby Groot
So, go ahead and mourn the loss of Groot, but don’t despair. His sacrifice is the reason the Guardians have gone on to fight another day. And Groot’s legacy lives on in Baby Groot, who will no doubt prove a worthy successor.
Baby Groot’s big-screen adventure begins when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 arrives in theaters on May 5.