When has a tree with gaping, dark-brown puppy-dog eyes ever garnered such mass approval? We never thought it would have happened before we snagged those tickets to see Guardians of the Galaxy, the highly-lauded film released in August in conjunction with Marvel Comics. Groot, the CGI alien plant who came to Earth to study humans, has already inspired countless tumblr posts, Instagram memes and Facebook statuses with those iconic three words — “I am Groot” — that seem to function as the limits of his peculiar vernacular. But no mind — the way this intergalactic woodland creature communicates is unspoken, as a concept of innocence and comic relief that’s just begging to be adored.
So, why is Groot just so darn endearing?
1. He stares into your soul.
With the inquisitiveness of the most wizened of ancient sages, tons of muscly bark shoot truth arrows into your very core. Maybe it’s the serene, indifferent mouth posture. Maybe it’s his disarming lack of nose. Maybe it’s just that he could use a facial or two to make those under-eye bags just a little less cavernous. Whatever it is, we feel like we have no more secrets left — they’ve all been sucked out of us. By a tree.
2. He’s deep. Really deep.
Isn’t it telling that in all of his studies of human beings, he’s only found three words necessary to communicate with them? If that isn’t some sub-textual commentary on the simplicity of Homo sapiens, we don’t know what is. Being a linguistic minimalist also allows him to make some existential statement on the nature of being. “I am Groot.” But what are we? Are we really humans? Are we all just plants? Should we dissolve these boundaries and melt into the primordial pool of shared, sentient existence? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!
(…okay, you Guardians heads. Okay. So we know that it’s a larynx condition that merely causes it to appear as if all that he is saying is “I am Groot.” But we stand by this alternative interpretation, because it’s fun.)
3. He challenges our notions of beauty.
A lumbering wooden thing with cracked “skin” doesn’t exactly fit into our socially-accepted mold of what’s cute. But Groot’s real beauty is shown in his fierce protectiveness over his squad and his commitment to doing good in the context of the cosmos. His pure zeal for fighting the bad guys is inspiring to us non-leafy folk. And hey, maybe there’s a little bit of Groot’s loveliness in all of us — various online movements dubbed with some variation of “We Are Groot” have popped up, and that’s no coincidence. We find him gorgeous, just as we do the shining parts of ourselves.
4. He is equally awesome in comic form.
It’s important to remember The Bark-y One’s otherworldly origins. Officially a Flora colossus from Planet X, Groot first appeared in the Tales to Astonish Marvel comics as early as 1960, the brainchild of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. Not only was he pictured alongside the Hulk, but was imagined as a nightmare of a young Peter Parker in the Spider-Man series. Groot is recurring and versatile, and is usually depicted doing rad, noble things. He’s also died multiple times and regenerated using a sprig of his former self. Trippy. And awesome.
5. Vin Diesel voices him./You can text him.
Vin Diesel is reason number five because, well, it’s Vin Diesel. It’s in conjunction with reason number five-and-a-half because we already shared that with you here. But it bears re-mentioning, because… YOU CAN TEXT HIM. Seriously.
Groot, you’re the greatest.