While the Guardians of the Galaxy character was an adult in his MCU debut, a touching sacrifice at the end of the first Guardians film led to him becoming a tiny plant in a pot. From there, he grew into a toddler for Vol. 2 and then an angsty teen for both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.
When the third and final film of the James Gunn-directed Guardians series came out, Groot was at his largest since being regrown—though not quite a full adult just yet. That moment came in the post-credits when his new design perfectly captured a comic-accurate look.
A Whole New Groot After His Sacrifice
During the audio commentary for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, director and writer James Gunn confirmed a key fact about Vin Diesel's Groot.
When the character first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, the big living tree ended up sacrificing his life to save his teammates.
That wasn't the end of Groot, however. Rocket Raccoon saved a single twig, which then grew into its own person.
Many have assumed that this new Groot is the same person, just reincarnated. While Gunn has previously confirmed that isn't the case, he took some time to make it even clearer.
First, he talked about "Swole Groot" in Vol. 3, and noted how "this Groot is not the same Groot from the first movie:"
“Here, we see Groot reconstituting himself. He’s growing back throughout the movie. Groot is, of course, now young adult Groot. Sometimes, we call him Swole Groot. He is Baby Groot in a youthful adult state and I think we start to see here really that this Groot is not the same Groot from the first movie."
Gunn made it clear that "this is a totally different Groot" from the one audiences met in 2014, as that one had "died, and gave birth to this Groot:"
"Many people believe that the first Groot was just reborn in this new shape. That is not the case. This is a totally different Groot than the first Groot. The first Groot sacrificed himself, and died, and gave birth to this Groot, who is not a genetic replica of the first Groot."
But why is that the case? Sadly, that's an answer the director is "probably not ever going to [share]:"
"I have reasons, in my mind, why that’s the case. I have a whole background for the character, but it’s probably not ever going to be shared. But he’s a different Groot.”
A Different Groot Grows With Audiences
It's taken nearly a decade but by the time Vol. 3 ends, Groot is finally the size of the original version of the character. In fact, when the hero is seen alongside the new Guardians of the Galaxy, he's probably even larger than he once was.
Many were frustrated they had to wait for him to grow. While that's understandable, his growth over the years (both personally and physically) made for a notably deep character.
For those that love the smaller, more goofy side of Groot, the Disney+ animated series I Am Groot is scheduled to get more episodes at some point in the future. One would assume that despite him now being much larger, the series will continue telling stories with toddler Groot.
It's not known when Groot will return, but since he was seen alongside Rocket with a new cosmic team at the end of Guardians 3, one would assume the gang will return sooner rather than later.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now available to purchase digitally.