Rocket and Groot have one of the most unique relationships in the entire MCU – since one of them has had to deal with the other one at a bunch of different ages, not to mention dying twice – but it’s also one of the sweetest.
Immediately after the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out, they both became fan-favorite characters (and to comic book readers, they already were), and their individual character arcs have run side-by-side with one another since, before their time with the Guardians, all they had was each other. So, here are Rocket And Groot’s 10 Sweetest Moments In The MCU.
10 Rocket replanting Groot
Groot’s sacrifice at the end of the first Guardians movie, giving his own life to save all his new friends (and his one pre-existing friend) from the impact of Ronan’s crashing ship is one of the most heartbreaking moments in the MCU – the line “We are Groot” is enough to get a lump in fans’ throats – and the whole time, Rocket implores him not to do it: “No, Groot! You can’t! You’ll die!”
It leads to the Guardians triumphing over Ronan and saving Xandar, but at least for a moment, there’s a melancholic feeling that it wasn’t a total victory, since we’d lost Groot. In the next scene, however, we see a Rocket carrying around a plant pot containing one of Groot’s remaining twigs.
9 Their miscommunication on Xandar
The Guardians of the Galaxy first meet when they fight over the Orb on Xandar. This lands them in prison, where they eventually learn to work together to help people (after a lot of soul-searching). Gamora nabs it from Quill, but he manages to take it back and run away, right before Rocket and Groot show up with a big bag.
Rocket tells Groot to bag Quill, but he bags Gamora instead, much to Rocket’s chagrin: “Learn genders, man!” Eventually, Groot bags the right guy and looks elated as he does it. Rocket tells him, “Quit smiling, ya idiot, you’re supposed to be a professional!”
8 “Spit that out!”
The great thing about the action scenes in the MCU is that they’re not just mindless CG-laden spectacle – there are plenty of character moments thrown in to keep them engaging. This is on brilliant display at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as Baby Groot dances to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” and the Guardians battle a space monster.
They each stop mid-battle for a little parenting moment with Groot, and Rocket’s is the best. He notices Groot trying to eat a fly and rushes over to tell him to spit it out. What makes their relationship so special is that, depending on Groot’s size, sometimes Groot carries Rocket around and acts as his parent, and sometimes Rocket carries Groot around and acts as his parent.
7 Groot growing his fingers into a Kyln inmate’s nostrils to protect Rocket
When Quill, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket were first captured by the Nova Corps and locked up in the Kyln, they were threatened by a hulking alien, who called them “new meat.” However, Groot quickly stepped in to protect everyone (including Rocket, who he must have saved in similar circumstances a dozen times before) by growing his fingers out into the guy’s nostrils, and presumably into his brain.
Funnily enough, this briefly appearing alien character was played by Nathan Fillion, a fanboy favorite that MCU fans have been dying to see play Nova. (This could still happen, and hopefully will, since he wouldn’t be the first actor to play two roles in the MCU.)
6 “Only he didn’t use ‘frickin’’...”
In many ways, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was Yondu’s movie. It was all about Peter Quill meeting his biological father and realizing he knew his true father – his Hasselhoff – all along, and it was Yondu. But right after he came to that realization, Yondu sacrificed himself to save him.
Rocket was one of the few characters to understand Yondu and the mistakes he made in an uneducated pursuit of doing the right thing, and when he gave him one protective oxygen shield, he knew he would give his own life to save Quill’s with it. So did Groot, which is why he took the opportunity to welcome Yondu to the “frickin’” team – “Only he didn’t use ‘frickin’’...”
5 Joining Thor on the Wakandan battlefield
Towards the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor gets his groove back as he acquires his new weapon, Stormbreaker, and hitches a ride to Earth on the Bifrost to fight the Black Order in Wakanda. Rocket and Groot join him, and the only possible reason they would’ve done that is their drive to do the right thing.
The other Guardians weren’t in Wakanda, they didn’t know anyone on Earth, and Thor didn’t need their ship to get there. But they went anyway, because the possibility of saving the universe from Thanos’ wrath was a good enough reason to get involved. It marks an important stage in their character development.
4 Groot protecting Rocket from the Power Stone explosion
Gamora‘s buyer for the Power Stone turned out to be the Collector on Knowhere, but when he explained its untold cosmic strength, his slave girl decided she’d had enough and ended it all by grabbing the Stone in her bare hands. (From a narrative perspective, this served to show how dangerous it was, preparing viewers for when Quill did it later in the movie.)
As an explosion of purple cosmic energy blew the building apart, Groot grabbed Rocket and ran like hell for the door. Alone, Rocket wouldn’t have been fast enough to get out or strong enough to withstand the heat. Luckily, he had his old pal Groot looking out for him.
3 Rocket trying to teach Groot about the detonator
Groot being a baby in the second Guardians movie is more than just an adorable gimmick. His size becomes integral to the plot in the final battle, since he’s the only one small enough to take the bomb and its detonator to Ego’s core and blow up his planet.
As Rocket tries to explain the difference between the detonator’s two buttons to Groot – one that will set off a five-minute timer and one that will detonate the bomb instantly – he becomes increasingly frustrated, since Groot isn’t getting it at all. He keeps thinking he should press the wrong one, which will kill them all. Still, Rocket never loses his temper at little, confused Groot.
2 Rocket shielding Groot from Thanos’ warships
This was a little moment that a lot of fans missed in Avengers: Endgame (at least on the first one or two viewings). It happens during the Battle of Earth, as Thanos turns his warships on the Avengers and they all prepare to be wiped out, right before Captain Marvel arrives and flies right through it, disabling its cannons.
When Earth’s mightiest heroes face certain doom, Rocket quickly jumps on Groot to shield him from the fire. At this point, poor Rocket has had to watch his best friend die not once, but twice, and he can’t bear to watch it again, so without a second thought, he lays down his life for him.
Although the viewer simply hears Groot say, “I am Groot,” for all of his lines, there is a real meaning behind every single one. It’s not even left up to interpretation – Vin Diesel is given a special script containing the English translations for his voice recordings, in order to deliver each one with the weight and inflection of what it actually means.
James Gunn has since revealed what “I am Groot” meant when the teenage Groot turned to dust in Rocket’s arms on the Wakandan battlefield after Thanos snapped his fingers: “Dad.” Isn’t that just the most heartbreaking thing you’ve ever heard, ever?