At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, fans were dealt a heavy blow when half of the heroes crumbled to dust following Thanos' Infinity Stone-powered snap. Every one of these character deaths was poignant, but fewer were harder felt that that of teenage Groot. Not only is the young sentient tree a fan-favorite character, but his relationship with Rocket Raccoon is iconic. To see a distraught Rocket powerless to do anything but Groot disappear was a brutal end to the beloved Guardians of the Galaxy pairing.
And, going into Avengers: Endgame, Rocket very nearly wore his broken heart on his sleeve.
In the newly released book The Art of Avengers: Endgame, an early character design reveals that, at one point, it was considered that Rocket should wear a bracelet created from small branches from the departed Groot.
The image shows the bracelet wrapped around Rocket's wrist, with green leaves still attached:
A touching tribute was conceptualized for Rocket to wear in honor of Groot. "I did a really subtle thing where on Rocket's Arm I did a tony Groot bracelet just for Rocket to remember him by -- not that he's ever going to forget," Sze says. "I know that Groot turned into ash after Infinity War, but I imagined that he might have left some twigs around. It was something that Rocket wears. It was a little touch that didn't get very far."
This would have been a subtle, easy-to-miss tribute, but it's still one that devoted fans would have noticed. It's the type of detail that could have been spotted in the trailers, and that would have plunged plenty of fans back into sadness.
The book doesn't reveal why the idea never went any further than the concept, but it's possible it was considered a little too grim for a film that was already pretty dark to begin with.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos. The film is available on Digital HD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD.