I Am Groot. Who Are You?

I finally got the opportunity to see Guardians of the Galaxy last week. Despite being a fan of both the Marvel movies and sci-fi space opera, I wasn’t sure if Marvel was going to pull this one off. One of the Guardians is a gun-toting, sarcastic raccoon, and another one is a…tree? If Marvel can do this, I thought to myself, they can do anything.

Well, it turns out that Marvel can do anything. Through the combination of top-notch CGI and a stellar voice performance by Bradley Cooper, Rocket Raccoon became the best character in the movie. Rocket’s voice and body language communicated his personality so well that his performance felt seamless. He had a clear identity and it came through in everything he said or did.

Rocket Raccoon

It turns out that the entire movie played with this theme of identity and communication. Guardians of the Galaxy made me think about how our sense of self influences the way we interact with the world. (mild spoilers ahead)

I am Groot

The other CGI character in the movie is Groot, a tree creature who can only speak three words: I am Groot. His way of connecting with others is to state his identity. This limited vocabulary doesn’t stop him from communicating with the team. Rocket (who knows Groot well) is able to interpret Groot’s tone. Rocket translates Groot’s one simple repeated statement into the details of what Groot is thinking.

Groot is comfortable with who he is and this is expressed in his actions. One great example of Groot showing his character is when he grows a flower for a random girl he spots on the street. It’s a touching scene, and demonstrates how Groot is communicating his identity by sharing a physical part of himself.

Groot giving a girl a flower

Groot’s identity is firmly rooted (how else?) in his connections with Rocket and the other Guardians. There’s a great scene later in the movie that illustrates this perfectly, but to tell you about it would spoil it. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. If not, get out there and go see this movie!

Β Call Me Star-Lord

In contrast to Groot, Peter Quill (the leader of the Guardians) is struggling with his identity. He left Earth when he was young, and he is clinging to his past rather than allowing himself to grow. He jokes around his fears and attempts to communicate with others through obscure pop-culture references. He confuses Drax, who has a tendency to interpret everything literally. Gamora also finds him challenging to communicate with, and asks him to explain himself in several scenes. These situations are played for laughs (and they are a lot of fun). But they are also showing how Peter’s lack of a clear identity is interfering with his ability to build relationships with others.

Peter Quill, Drax, and Gamora

Peter Quill, Drax, and Gamora

Peter tries to deal with his identity crisis by choosing another name. Peter wants to be known by a nickname he created for himself, one that embodies who he would like to be: Star-Lord. But no one takes this pretend identity seriously. Peter needs to grow up and show what he is made of, and he gets his chance as events unfold. By the end of the movie, he has reconciled with his past and has truly become Star-Lord. He has also forged close relationships with his team. (Just in time for a sequel!)

Who Are You?

Guardians is a movie about identities and how they support our interactions with others. It shows us how knowing who we are and what we stand for can help us make changes for the better. And it makes me wonder about my own identity. In our lives, we play so many roles. I have been (and still am) daughter, sister, student, co-worker, wife, mother, aunt, friend, writer. So who is the real me? How can I stay whole and grounded, so that I can connect meaningfully with others in a genuine way? How can I bring my best self to the world?

In Guardians of the Galaxy, a ragtag group of criminals goes on a journey of self-discovery and becomes a group of heroes who save the universe.

Who are you? And what will you become?

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Just a reminder – if you haven’t had a chance to answer my quick summer poll, please take a second to give me your feedback on my blog. It’s your chance to change the future. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

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18 thoughts on “I Am Groot. Who Are You?

  1. Wonderful analysis of the movie. I loved it, too. Thought it was very well done. Like you, I wondered about a raccoon and a tree as leading characters, but like you, I was completely won over.

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m so glad we live in a time where we can see a great live-action movie featuring a raccoon and a tree. What amazing opportunities we have for the whole speculative fiction genre!

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  2. I hadn’t thought about the way themes of identity and communication play out in the film, and really liked this way of looking at it. There’s already so much to admire about this film, and for me you’ve added to that.

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    1. Thanks, Andrew! I’ve got communication on the brain all the time these days – it’s an occupational hazard. πŸ™‚ I loved the line in the movie about a thesaurus, and it kind of snowballed from there. I’m sure I’ll pick up even more when I see it again.

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  3. Some friends of mine just went to see this film, and invited my husband and me. I’d never heard of it (I know, I live under a rock), so I read the plot synopsis.

    Him: I don’t know…..
    Me: Yeah, it has a talking raccoon.
    Him (looking slightly offended): ROCKET!!! Rocket is AWESOME!

    I’m going to share your post with him. Sounds like we should probably see this one after all. πŸ™‚

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    1. LOL, Brenna! Rocket WAS awesome, so you should go see it just for that. πŸ™‚ I wasn’t familiar with the Guardians story or characters at all, and only knew about this movie because it was from Marvel. If you like fun space adventure stories like Star Wars, you and your husband are going to love this one. It’s a solid movie. I wish we had more summer movies that were done this well. If you guys see it, I would love to hear what you think!

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  4. A lovely post, Sue, and one that speaks to my heart. If ever there was a theme to my parenting, I’d have to nail it with the word “identity.” It’s been so important to communicate to my kids the need for self-discovery and not simply fitting within somebody else’s label. I’ve told them repeatedly, that whatever they do, just don’t do it regular. (I know, awful grammar, but it was a motto they grabbed onto as young elementary students and we’ve stuck with it.)
    Thankfully, I think if we work at it, we can identify ourselves in the form of a shapeshifter. Life influences us along with all our experiences. I most importantly do not want to be rigid.
    A delightful read, as usual! (and now I want to see the film)

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    1. As a parent, I am completely with you on the importance of identity. If only all kids were encouraged to be themselves and develop the self-confidence to forge their own paths. I like your idea of being a shapeshifter – that we can flow into new forms without being constrained by them. I hope you enjoy the movie, Shelley. πŸ™‚

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    1. I have no doubt that you will enjoy the raccoon, Celine! πŸ™‚ I don’t like reading anything ahead of time either. I remember when the Harry Potter books were coming out – I would get the copy right away, and ban all media until I got a chance to finish it over the weekend. Spoilers were everywhere! Very annoying.

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    1. Hi ML, thanks for stopping by! Always great to hear from another Marvel fan. It took me a while to find that picture of Rocket – most of them feature him snarling, which wasn’t quite the look I was going for. πŸ™‚ All the best to you!

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  5. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy. I also loved Groot and Rocket–but especially Groot.
    I’ve enjoyed all of the Marvel films! I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid. It’s great to see characters I’ve read about come to life.

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    1. Hi L. Marie, thanks for coming by and commenting! Groot was amazing – he made me think about how much I loved the Ents in Lord of the Rings. I’ve seen all of the Marvel movies, too, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well they’ve put all of them together. So great to see comic book characters done well! Now if someone can just get a decent Wonder Woman movie off the ground, I’ll be all set. πŸ™‚

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