Who knew a tiny sentient tree could play such an important role in the galaxy’s ability to smile?
By Alicia Drier, Roosevelt University
I’ve been a fan of the semi-humanoid alien my entire life.
It began with Chewbacca, the loveable sassy wookiee from “Star Wars” (and also conveniently the name of my first invisible friend). Then there were ewoks, droids of various colors and sizes, hobbits, E.T….Basically, if the story included a strangely loveable alien race, I’ve probably been into it at some point. To a young girl growing up in the ’90s, each of these beings was a beacon of certainty and direction in life. They were in tune with their emotions and weren’t afraid to stand up for what they believed in. And even if Chewbacca was known for ripping people’s arms off when he didn’t get his way, I knew we would be best friends if given the opportunity.
Then there was Groot.
He first went viral dancing as a potted plant to “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. From there, he quickly became a bobblehead, a dancing toy, even a crochet pattern. In the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, before he is reborn as a tiny dancer, Groot was often the most sane and compassionate of the ragtag guardian bunch. I fell for this giant tree because of his surprisingly expressive three-word vocabulary and bark-lined heart of gold. You say “We are Groot” to me today, and I’ll still burst into tears.
But as much as I was looking forward to the return of a grooving tiny Groot, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated how great Baby Groot was going to be in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Reasons Why Baby Groot Is the Best
1. The Dance Moves
No one ever officially establishes how much time has passed between the first and second “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, but it’s enough for Groot to have graduated from a potted plant back into a two-legged tree.
It is with these new legs that Baby Groot dances the audience into the opening of the sequel, similar to Peter Quill’s hip-thrusts into the story of the first film. Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” never sounded so good, and gosh I wish I had dance moves like that when I was still a toddler! But what about the fact that he still freezes mid-dance-session any time Drax looks over at him? Or what about his smile and wave at Gamora in the middle of an epic battle with an angry space octopus?
There is no doubt that this dancing Baby Groot has learned a thing or two since his first wiggles to The Jackson 5. And the cuteness factor could not be any higher.
2. The Attitude
Speaking of the Baby Groot cute factor, Groot himself is having nothing of it.
After Yondu is betrayed by his crew and Rocket and Groot are taken prisoner, Groot is kept behind by the crew because they think he’s so adorable. They fit him into a ship uniform, and he is then poked, prodded and soaked with beer while the crew laughs and croons over how cute he is. When he arrives back at the cell where Rocket and Yondu are being kept, he is dripping and looking a little more than depressed.
But Groot doesn’t take this lying down. As soon as he breaks his friends out of the ship’s brig, I’m sure you can guess who is the first to get a Groot-shaped twig up the nose. He reminds the audience once again in this scene that he is definitely more than a dancing houseplant.
3. The Language
Many things are simpler in Baby Groot’s world than they were before. He doesn’t know the difference between a human toe and a pair of underwear. He doesn’t like people who wear hats. But while full-grown Groot was empathetic and often paused to think before speaking, Baby Groot has also developed a new affinity for swear words.
The best moment when this is made clear: “He just said, ‘Welcome to the freakin’ Guardians of the Galaxy’…only he didn’t say freakin’.” According to Rocket, his loyal interpreter, they really should have a talk about his impulsive language. But what can you expect from a small tree being raised with Peter Quill as a father figure?
4. The Family
Just as the first Guardians film centered around the theme of unlikely friendship, the second movie focuses heavily on the concept of family. The guardians themselves prove time and again that family is made and not born into, but “Vanity Fair” writer Joanna Robinson argues that the very character of Groot is the root of this idea in Volume 2.
She writes, “Throughout the film, Peter, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, and even Yondu are all on the lookout for Groot—sometimes just silently passing him off to each other the way any relative might. It’s that care—more than any vocalized proclamation of their relationship—that makes this group feel like a family. In other words, ‘Guardians’ is showing not telling you that this group operates as a family unit.” (to read more, click here).
And there you have it. Right when you think the cuteness factor couldn’t get any higher for Baby Groot, he has to go and unite the guardians in true “We are Groot” fashion. This is why Baby Groot now has a special place in my Favorite Aliens Hall of Fame. He may be a bit smaller and just a tiny bit sassier than the first time around, but at his little wooden core, he is still unswerving in his love for his people.
Or in the expressive words of the chlorophyll-loving poet, “I am Groot.”