On a ruined world, when Groot was met for the first time, he did not have a name. He was given one purely by an accidental mistranslation.
There’s probably no Marvel catchphrase stuck in the public consciousness more right now than, “I am Great, ”But as it turns out, that’s not what he started saying. This happened in the Secret Wars tie-in The Infinity Gauntlet. The story and art were handled by Dustin Weaver with a script by Gerry Duggan.
On the amalgamated planet Battleworld, one of the realms was destroyed by a swarm of bloodthirsty bugs. They were unleashed by Thanos as a plot to collect all of the Infinity Stones. A group made up of Star-Lord, Gamora, and a family of Nova Corp members led by a girl named Anwen tried to find the stones before the Mad Titan. Their search brought them to a forest, where they believed one of the stones was located. Tracking the stone brought them to one tree in particular, where they believed the stone was somewhere inside.
As it turns out, this tree was alive. Of course, this tree was the fan-favorite Guardian of the Galaxy Groot. In this story, the Guardians had not been assembled yet, so this was the first time they were put together. At first, Gamora believes someone is hiding inside the tree, but the tree shocks everyone when it reveals it has eyes. While contemplating where the stone is, Anwen utters, “hmmm,” while her brother thinks the tree grew over the stone. Finally, they think the stone is at the tree’s roots. Putting all these various words together spells out “eye hmmm grew root.” The tree repeats this, which one Anwen believes he was saying, “I am Groot,” and so a catchphrase was born.
In the mainstream Marvel universe, Groot is part of the species called the Flora colossus. Their repetitive speech is due to a stiff larynx that causes the tree-like beings to repeat the same phrases over and over. Many characters get frustrated with Groot when he only repeats the same three words, however, Groot’s friends and those who spend a lot of time with him are able to decipher different inflections and emphases in the phrase in order to understand exactly what he is saying.
To further prove Groot’s intellect, telepaths are actually able to read his thoughts. The fact that he only repeats “I am Groot” does not belittle his intellectual prowess at all. Groot has a full-fledged internal monologue and his speech is merely a physical limitation, not a mental one. Though his fondness for the phrase “I am Groot” becomes obvious by the end of The Infinity Gauntlet. He might not have started out by saying it, but by the end of the story, Great adopts it completely as he uses it as a battle cry during the series’ climactic fight.
Next: Infinity War: Thor Made Groot’s Language A Plot Hole
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