He's a short, furry, mutant mercenary and he's a sentient plant-based life-form from another planet, and they're both easily our favorite members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Needless to say, they're both quite a pair. Rocket is quick-footed and quick-witted and Groot is large and lumbering (no pun intended). They work incredibly off of one another's strengths, a very symbiotic partnership. Together, they form the butt-kicking comedy duo that the Guardians need. Their career in the comics, as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has spawned a more than healthy fan following, and we don't see them slowing down any time soon.
With such a long and colorful career spanning across the galaxies, it's fun to look back on just how far the two have come. From Groot being a green menace attempting to invade Earth to Rocket being little more than a quirky sidekick, it goes without saying that the two have less than glamorous origins. It's easy to put an unlikely pair together, give them some weapons and some bad guys to fight, and call it a day, but these two have more going on than many fans might think. From Rocket's surprising origins to Groot's doubly surprising intellect, the stories behind the heroes are down-right impressive. Hope everyone is packing some heat and some rocking tunes, because we're going to look back at twenty fan-forgotten facts about Rocket and Groot.
20 JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, AND ROCKET
The name and character of Rocket Raccoon come from the Beatles's White Album track "Rocky Raccoon." The name is the most obvious reference, but those familiar with the comics and the psychedelic rock band will catch more than a few references in the mix. And we've certainly found more than Gideon's Bible.
Though Rocket does go out to find Gideon's Bible, the links to the song don't end there. His woman (Lylla) did run off with another guy (Blackjack O'Hare), and Rocket, equipped with a gun, "shot off the legs" of his rival. Granted, he did more than lose his legs, but it's still uncanny how much from the song made it into the comics. We're surprised they haven't encountered a yellow submarine.
19 SWAB THE GROOT-DECK!
Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man was a weird little show that gave Spidey and all his friends a more comedic approach. In one of the many different universes the titular hero swings through, he encounters his scurvy counterpart, Captain Web-Beard. And wouldn't you know it, the captain's sentient ship looks an awful lot like our favorite tree-creature.
This is either a really cheap design or a really funny one. With a crew featuring Howard the Duck and Rocket, and a cheery figurehead of Groot, it's certainly laughable to us. It's not exactly the most dynamic or astounding design, but it's a variation we had to mention.
18 STUCK ON SQUIRREL GIRL
Marvel's 75th Anniversary Celebration was a collection of stories and art released in 2014 to celebrate the brand's long career. It was a mixed-bag of Marvel madness with action, humor, and somethings that were just plain out there. In a collection that features Groot as a crack-shot attorney, we're not surprised this next one exists.
In an unused cover for an unused story, "I Married a Raccoon" we see our favorite furred mercenary leading Squirrel Girl to the altar. We've seen some pretty strange artwork from the fanbase, but here's one straight from the studio itself. It's positively wacky and not considered entirely canon, but now we know someone at Marvel ships these two. It's like a bad B-movie, but we kinda like it.
17 GROOT, I AM YOUR FATHER
The Guardians made more than a smash when they made their debut in the MCU. The film was action-packed, hilarious, and incredibly quotable. With all those factors in mind, it's quite remarkable how much heart this film has, particularly with the sacrifice of a certain tree-man.
When Groot perishes saving the rest of the Guardians in their arrival on Xandar. Towards the end of the film, we see a newborn twig Groot, get some more '70s tunes, and everything's okay. Or is it? It was later revealed by James Gunn that the original Groot perished and the new Baby Groot is actually his offspring. This fact is just as sweet as it is bittersweet. It looks like the regenerative properties only work so far.
16 CAREFUL, HE BITES
Rocket has been through a lot in his adventures. He's been experimented on by evil robots, met gods of thunder, gone toe to toe with Ravagers, Cree zealots, and living planets, and even survived the Thanos snap. But he's also tangled with one of the most dangerous organisms in the universe.
On more than one occasion, Rocket has come in contact with a certain symbiote from another planet. That's right, even our favorite Raccoon has been possessed by none other than Venom. As if the lasers and guns didn't make him dangerous enough, an unstable, hungry alien lifeform. The combo might've been able to stop Poison Groot, but it's a deadly cocktail nonetheless.
15 THE DAY THE GROOT LANDED
Groot's first incarnation, now known as King Groot, was not exactly the big, loveable, hunk of lumber we love today. The first version resembled something like a watered-down Treebeard and didn't exactly have the best intentions for the people of earth. Yeah, not exactly the warm fuzzy type we'd prefer.
Groot landed on earth with plans to enslave the planet and cover it in alien plant life. In a way, it makes us think of Ronan's master plan, but with more flowers and trees. Fortunately, his reign of terror didn't last too long. This Groot, though large and intimidating, was brought to his knees against a pretty small enemy. It was kryptonite for a tree, termites.
14 ONE GUARDIAN SHORT
One treasure-hunting space pirate, one sword-swinging warrior princess, one muscle-bound savage, one kindhearted tree monster, and one machine-gun-toting raccoon, we'd watch that in a heartbeat. The ragtag group of heroes certainly took the MCU by cosmic storm when they first hit theatres, but at one point they were about to be short one notable member. Nowadays, Groot without Rocket is a rare concept, but not during the development of the first film.
Originally, the minds behind Guardians of the Galaxy thought Rocket would make things too cartoony for some audience members. That's a pretty ridiculous reason considering a universe with tree people, cigar smoking ducks, and a blue Ravager with a collection of frog figures. A talking raccoon sounds pretty tame at this point.
13 IT CAME FROM PLANET X
In his early years, little was known about Rocket's botanical bestie. He was your standard monster from beyond the stars, taking inspiration from early sci-fi flicks like The Thing From Another World. He appeared with the Hulk in 1960, along with some other Marvel monsters from Marvel's horror series, and thus began the career of the creature we know as Groot.
Called "The Monster From Planet X" this version of Groot was more like Man-Thing and covered in moss and bark. He was a creature from outer space who desired to capture and study humans for his home planet. This monstrous Groot was later revised into the more Guardian-friendly one we have today. It was a dodgy start, but we're happy with the end result.
12 CAN'T KEEP HIM IN
It's boldly stated in the first film and part of his reputation in the comics, but it should come as no surprise that there are few prisons that can hold this roguish raccoon. Rocket has escaped from at least twenty-three high-security prisons. With or without outside help, nothing short of an Infinity stone can hold this guy down.
Xandarian prisons, moon-sized containment units, and ghostly dimensions simply cannot withstand the diabolical genius and cunning of Rocket Raccoon. Not even The Collector's mansion stands a chance against this resourceful rodent. With his analytical mind and penchant for makeshift weapons, he'll find a way out and probably take whatever valuables he can find along the way.
11 TREE OF FEW WORDS
With his lumbering manner and simple expressions of "I am Groot," one would think there's not a lot going on up in Groot's big wooden head. As surprising as it is, Groot is actually more intelligent than some fans give him credit. We're talking Treebeard levels on the wisdom scale here.
Groot has access to arboreal knowledge and possesses the wisdom of the elders of his species. The reason his vocabulary is limited to "I am Groot" is because of his kind's lack of a larynx. Groot's voice is an early onset adaptation so it is obviously limited in terms of communication. And here we thought Rocket was the brains.
10 SOLD OUT
Rocket and Groot tend to be the best of friends, the perfect combination of brains and brawn. The two make their living together busting up bad guys and collecting bits and bounties all along the way. Though they make quite the combo, there is a dark mark on their otherwise full-on friendship.
In the Rocket and Groot series of shorts relating the duo's quest to obtain a new spaceship. All seems lost until Rocket learns of the bounty on his buddy's branches. He doesn't waste a second in turning him over to the authorities, then heading to the dealership with a new ride. Fortunately, Rocket busts him out of jail and welcomes him aboard the new cruiser. It was sneaky, but a very Rocket move.
We're all familiar with Groot's impressive strength, botanically based abilities, and limited vocabulary, but what would happen if he was given the equivalent of a cosmic steroid shot? The Black Vortex is a celestial phenomenon that grants those exposed to it godlike abilities but corrupts their hearts in the process. Here's what happened to Groot after his encounter.
Essentially becoming a cosmic monster, Groot gained the ability to self-produce biophysical energy, as well as survive the vacuum of space without need of oxygen. He becomes more energy than alien, and almost entirely unstoppable. Think about it, a plant with no need of atmosphere is nearly immortal. If he could live without sunlight too, Vortex-Groot would be nearly unstoppable.
8 DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
A great portion of the Guardian's victory over Ronan in the first film can be traced back to Rocket's talent for impromptu weaponry. He builds the Hadron Enforcer as a sort of hail-mary heavy-hitter type weapon. He jokingly says it's "for when things get really hardcore, or if you want to blow up moons." If the beam is strong enough to rip out an Infinity Stone, it probably is strong enough for that too.
The weapon is a testament to Rocket's level of ingenuity and appetite for destruction. He made the thing out of spare parts off the Milano, and it's pretty compact for something with so much power. If it really can blow up moons, the Nova Corps might have some questions for Rocket.
7 PLANT WHISPERER
We've seen Groot wield vines and spores to aid his friends and protect himself in combat. But what some Guardian groupies might not know is that Groot isn't limited to just using his own flora, but the plants that surround him as well. Talk about a green thumb!
Given the right environmental conditions, Groot could potentially have an army of various vegetation at his command. Granted, they wouldn't be as intelligent as the character in question, but they would be very easily manipulated. Imagine how unstoppable Groot could be if this ability was more frequent. Does anyone else wanna see Groot vs. Man-Thing?
6 STUNT DOUBLE
A lot went into bringing Rocket Raccoon to the big screen. Along with a live raccoon model, Bradley Cooper as the voice, and a team of CGI wizards, we often forget about the miracle of motion capture. Since there weren't many mutant rodents running around the Marvel Studio lot, Sean Gunn stepped in to fill the furry shoes of our favorite mercenary.
This is less of a little-known fact and more of an easter egg, but we'll count it. Sean Gunn, who plays Kraglin in the film, donned the goofy green body suit to help create the basics for Rocket's presence. It's pretty cool to see Sean Gunn do more behind the scenes than just comic relief.
5 THAT'S A MOUTHFUL
Fans and other Marvel characters have called Groot many different things in the past. Twig, Giving Tree, and just Tree are just a few of the monikers that have been bestowed on this monster from Planet X, but his real title is a tad more complex. You might call him a living tree, a plant monster, an arboreal alien, but the natives of his home planet prefer the term "Flora Colossi."
Flora Colossi is the official name of Groot's species. They hail from Planet X/Taluhnia, a swampish, forest-like environment where plants and the humanoid species thrive. A deal about Groot remains unknown to those who don't understand him, but we're impressed the creators and artist went this far in detail.
4 BUNNY BLOWN TO BITS
We mentioned earlier that Rocket, much like Rocky in the Beatles song, had a violent confrontation with his rival. Blackjack O'Hare is Rocket's nemesis from Half-World, and this cyborg rabbit is not easy to take down. With robotically enhanced legs and a slew of laser-based weapons, it takes a lot to knock this creep out.
On an assassination mission, Blackjack is stopped by Rocket and his crew. After blowing Groot up with a grenade, Rocket gets revenge in the best possible way, by blowing the bunny up with a missile launcher. Just the extremeness of the act is enough to wow any reader, but Rocket's never one for subtlety.
3 TREE OF KNOWLEDGE
We've mentioned earlier that Groot's ancient Photonic knowledge passed down to him by the Arboreal Masters gives him a surprisingly intelligent edge. But how smart is this tree exactly? How does genius level sound? That certainly has us wondering if the big tree could be the biggest brain behind the Guardians.
According to the Marvel canon, Groot has one of the finest educations from Planet X from the Masters. He also allegedly (keyword: allegedly) possesses an immense understanding of quasi-dimensional super-positional engineering. No, we're not joking. We're just as surprised to know what it's truly like in that large head of his.
2 TEAM ROCKET
In one of his first solo adventures, Rocket Raccoon: Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant, Rocket teamed up with his own motley group of animal companions from Half-World. Rocket, Wal-Rus, and Lylla fought off against evil robots, insane alien mental patience and more in this colorful '80s romp, spandex included.
We love seeing Rocket in a leadership role, it's just so refreshing. Though we never get tired of seeing him as part of the fun and often times comical duo of Rocket and Groot, it's nice to see him break out of his over-the-top persona and go in guns-blazing like the action hero he is. Who wouldn't wanna follow him on a mission? It just goes to show, there ain't nothin' like Rocket except Rocket.
1 ROCKET AND HULK
Before he was the smart-mouthed weapons master of the Guardians, before he was taking out evil robots on Half-World, even before he met Groot, Rocket was called Rocky, wore a kitschy spacesuit, and appeared in a B story for the Hulk. Making his debut in "The Sword in the Star" Rocket was less of an action hero and more of a gimmicky side character. Guess everybody has to start somewhere.
The '70s were really weird, weren't they? This first appearance would later serve as the barebones for his adventures in the Keystone Quadrant, but looking back it's actually pretty ridiculous. We know not every Marvel mainstay has a glamorous premiere, but it's hard to believe a character like Rocket came from this, somewhat nonsensical premise.