‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Has a Weak Point When It Comes to Groot
We need more of Groot with his co-parents.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in recent years, with most of the Guardians like Gamora, Drax, and Rocket getting some powerful and poignant arcs. However, one member of the crew is neglected in the final film, which is weird because he’s the emotional core of the whole found family: Groot.
History of Groot
From the very first Guardians movie, Prime Groot was a highlight, a touch of gentleness and empathy amongst the rough, tough, and emotionally-volatile Guardians. His sacrifice was one of the most emotional parts of the film and was arguably the rallying point for the Guardians that allowed them to succeed and bond as a group. Lindsay Ellis has a great video showing how it allowed Drax and Rocket to bond in particular.
The second film saw his descendant, Baby Groot, being raised by the Guardians, all of whom were acting as co-parents to him. This featured all kinds of scenes of them caring for him, protecting him from harm, and generally doing their best to care for him as a fractured family unit, most of whom didn’t have good parental figures to emulate. The parental relationship was solidified in Infinity War, when Groot’s translated last words were him calling Rocket Raccoon “Dad.”
We didn’t see much of Groot in Endgame, apart from one scene where Rocket shielded Teen Groot from Thanos’ fire with his own body. We got little bits of him in his spinoff series I am Groot and The Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special, but not much that explored him as a character. Guardians writer/director James Gunn stated that Vol. 3 would feature “a full arc for every major character.” Despite that promise, Groot’s general presence in Vol. 3 feels a bit pared down, having very little influence on the plot as a whole and not many character moments, either.
Another issue is that of Gamora. Obviously, Peter and Gamora’s relationship is important, with Peter having partially caused the Snap in his grief over her death. However, the focus on Peter, when it comes to Gamora, also neglects Prime Gamora’s relationship with the other Guardians, namely Groot. Remember, she was basically Groot’s mom for most of his life, and he never saw her again after the Guardians split up between Nowhere (Gamora, Starlord, Mantis, Drax) and Nidavellir (Rocket, Teen Groot, and Thor). We never see Groot have a moment where he tries to hug the 2014!Variant Gamora or otherwise acknowledge her loss and the effect it had on him, nor does the film get into the Snap and the issues of coming back to a family that you were gone from for five years.
I want to make it clear that Groot’s lack of presence is understandable; the movie is already a cool 2 hours and 29 minutes, and manages to fit in arcs exploring most of the ever-expanding crew of the Guardians, with special emphasis being placed on Rocket Raccoon’s background. The problem is that, given what we know of their relationship, Groot should have a more prominent role in that. We see in the film how protective Groot is of Rocket against Adam Warlock, and we see him caring for Rocket later on, but it still feels like their relationship is not as thoroughly explored as it should be.
Did Rocket ever tell him about his friendship with the original Groot? Have there been any “growing pains” since their Endgame reunion? There was even the opportunity for Star-Lord and Groot to bond over having a dying parental figure. It just feels like a tragic waste that Groot’ doesn’t feel like a full character’s relationships and character aren’t explored more, given how the Guardians have always explored family, be it found, adopted, or blood.
The worst part is that since the Guardians are (mostly) going their separate ways after the film, it’s unlikely that we’re going to get much more exploration of Groot’s relationship with the other Guardians. Still, I look forward to seeing Kaiju Groot and Captain Rocket Raccoon guarding the galaxy.
(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)
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