Although Avengers: Infinity War is just about six months away, there is surprisingly little we actually know of the movie beyond the broad strokes. Sure, we know that the Infinity Stones will be involved, that Thanos and the Black Order will serve as the main threat, and that the Guardians of the Galaxy will team-up with almost every Avenger we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far in order save all of reality. But since a trailer hasn't even been released yet however, we have little information as to what this next adventure will look like on a more personal level; namely, how all of these characters will interact with each other.
What we do have is one hint as to what Groot's role will be in the ensemble film. It was recently announced that Terry Notary will be the one to bring to motion-capture life to the now slightly older "Adolescent" Groot, and the actor revealed an interesting tidbit about the sentient tree's personal journey. "He's coming of age," Notary said, "so you'll see the teenager find a mentor to look up to and to model himself after."
This, of course, got us wondering: Who could be the mentor Groot will model himself after? With so many characters around, it's hard to pinpoint exactly which one could become Groot's mentor. We're fairly certain that some characters like Rocket, Drax and Gamora can be excluded from the list, because we have already seen much of Groot interacting with them as a baby. Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Iron Man also seem unlikely, if only because their responsibilities will surely be grander than others, with their roles most likely detached from the main frontlines.
With that said, here are the leading contenders we see as having the most potential to become Groot's future role model.
Although Peter Quill spent the better part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ignoring Baby Groot, by the end of the film, the Earthling saw how much he had neglected an important relationship that was right there all along. An absent father of sorts, Quill realized that he could be an important presence for Groot, sparking a new kind of relationship for the two. One of the after-credits scene of the film showed us how Star-Lord had become a father figure to a moody, pre-teen Groot, which could be the direction of things to come as we pick back up with the Guardians in Infinity War.
It's possible that their relationship will be stronger, and that Groot will look up to Quill as the sort of leader and hero he wants to be, a father who is learning about his new responsibility, just as much as Groot is learning to grow.
Though a trailer for Infinity War has not been released, attendees at 2017's Comic-Con International and D-23 Expo were treated to an early look at the film, with word coming from the screening that the Guardians of the Galaxy would find Thor in space. If Thor is the first Avenger the space-bound team meets, it would make sense that Groot would be intrigued by this new, undeniably fun and charismatic presence in their spaceship.
When the Guardians of the Galaxy finally team with the rest of the Avengers, there's no telling what these interactions will look like. That said, it's not a stretch to imagine that Groot may find himself looking up to Captain America, the charismatic and inspiring soldier who will presumably lead the charge in the fight against Thanos. Steve Rogers has a strong presence that inspires all others around him to be the best versions of themselves, to be true heroes, that we can easily see Groot's heroism and coming of age sparked by Steve Rogers guidance.
A situation like this could lead to a bit of jealousy from the leader of the Guardians, resulting in some entertaining friction between the groups. As Groot's father figure, Star-Lord would probably have a few reservations about his surrogate son looking up to someone "better" than him.
With so many adults around him, Groot will have a tough time finding someone roughly his age to befriend. That search just might come to an end when Groot meets Peter Parker, a superhero who's already been through a lot, but is also still very much a kid. These two actually have a lot in common, and it would be logical to see Groot look up to Spider-Man as a great hero -- one that Groot could strive to become.