The Comic Book Backstory Behind How Groot Went From Tree Monster To Guardian Of The Galaxy

Whether he's a cute dancing baby, a moody teen, or an adventurous adult, Groot is consistently ranked as one of the most beloved members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He may be a tree-person who seemingly only speaks three words, but his simple nature and heroic personality have made him the heart of the Guardians. 

Groot has had a colorful comic book history many MCU fans might not know about. He was first introduced in 1960 and has accomplished quite a bit throughout his 70-year publication history. Originally conceived as a monstrous villain, Groot's character has evolved over time into the loving tree-man we all know and adore.  

If you've ever been curious about Groot's alien origins, his unusual anatomy, or his many conflicts as a Guardian of the Galaxy, here are all of the most relevant and interesting moments in Groot's backstory. 

Photo: Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios

  • Groot Is A Floral Colossus From The Planet X

    Groot isn’t just some one-off monster. He is what’s known as a Floral Colossus, a race of hyper-intelligent tree people. The word “Groot” can also be applied to the entire species - the moniker isn't just the name of our favorite Floral Colossus.

    The Floral Colossi rule over all of the Branch Worlds including Groot’s own homeworld, Planet X. During his early life, Groot felt like an outcast among his people. Although his species is plant-like, he was attracted to the smaller “Maintenance Mammals” and fungi that lived on his planet. The species, known as the Undergrowth, were considered inferior lifeforms by other Floral Colossi, but Groot considered them his friends.

    Groot is eventually forced to flee his homeworld after he ends another Colossus's life while defending a Maintenance Mammal from torment.

  • His Ability To Speak Fluent English Was Retconned

    Groot isn’t exactly the most vocal of the Guardians. He can say “I am Groot” and the occasional “We are Groot," but that’s where his English vocabulary ends. This wasn’t always the case with everyone’s favorite Floral Colossus. In fact, Groot could speak in full sentences when he was first introduced. 

    Over the years, the character went through some dramatic changes. One of these was his dialogue, which was eventually whittled down to the classic “I am Groot” line. The in-universe explanation is that Floral Colossi are afflicted by a genetic disease that causes the larynx to harden, limiting their vocal capabilities.

    That doesn’t mean they aren’t saying anything, however. Their language is nuanced and subtle, so it requires a good ear to understand. Intonation, breath, volume, and more must be considered when communicating with a Floral Colossus. 

  • Groot First Appears In 'Tales To Astonish 13' As A Villain

    Groot might be a loveable Guardian today, but he didn't start out that way. He was first introduced in Tales to Astonish 13 as a world domination-hungry villain.

    The issue was published on November 1st, 1960, and featured a very different Groot than we know today. Groot could speak fluent English and claimed to be the king of Planet X after crash landing on Earth, where he began assimilating trees into his own body to grow in size. He intended to uproot an entire town and bring it back to his home planet to study, but he is stopped by a scientist named Leslie Evans.

    Evans breeds a specialized colony of termites and unleashes them on Groot, ending his reign over the small town. Groot was presumed dead for a while, but he eventually pops up again. 

  • Rocket And Groot Stumbled Their Way Onto An Interdimensional Reality TV Program

    In one of Rocket and Groot's more bizarre adventures, the two briefly become the stars of their own interdimensional reality show. They are forced to be on the show, and the two have to fight hard not to get canceled.

    Cancelation means death, and this duo were adament about preventing that outcome. Fortunately, the scrappy duo persevered.

  • Groot Was Once Infected By The Venom Symbiote

    What do you get when you cross a talking tree with a lethal, bloodthirsty parasite? The answer is fairly terrifying, especially for those who have only seen Groot in his cute MCU capacity. 

    In Guardians of the Galaxy #22, Groot is one of several Guardians to briefly host the Venom symbiote. His signature "I am Groot" changed to "I am Venom!" as Groot wore the symbiote. Luckily, it doesn't seem like he had to suffer for long.

  • Groot Helped Rocket Restore His Memories At Halfworld Asylum

    After Groot's escape from Planet X, he returns the favor to Rocket and accompanies to the place he was created, Halfworld Asylum. Here he helps Rocket uncover his past by recovering his lost memories. Afterwards, the duo sticks together and tries to get the Guardians of the Galaxy to come out of retirement.