Do You Hate That Groot Line In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3? You’re Thinking About It Wrong

Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If you haven’t seen the film yet, proceed at your own risk!

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Vin Diesel delivers what, to date, is his only line of dialogue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that isn’t either “I am Groot” or “We are Groot.” Surrounded by his adopted family at the end of the movie, the tree-like alien with the voice of the Fast & Furious professes a very clear, “I love you guys.”

Taken at face value, this line may upset some people. The franchise has established that Groot has a limited vocabulary, and the idea of breaking this “rule” for such a sentimental line can understandably be viewed as lame. If this were a proper interpretation of the moment, the emotion would be appropriate – but the reality is that it’s not. Simply put, Groot doesn’t actually say “I love you guys;” that’s just what we hear him say.

Let’s Take Things Back To The Beginning

“Well, he don't know talkin' good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to ‘I’ and ‘am’ and ‘Groot,’ exclusively in that order.”

In Guardians of the Galaxy, that’s how Rocket first explains the unique communication skills of his best friend to Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord – the heroes having just recently met during a skirmish that got them arrested and sent to prison. But while Peter and just about everyone else (including the audience) hears Groot introduce himself over and over again, Rocket is an exception. The raccoon perfectly understands everything that Groot is saying.

When one considers this, one understands that it’s not as though diminutive gun-lover has studied and learned the unique subtleties of his pal’s language. Rather, his interpretations come from the fact that he knows Groot well enough that he can translate what he is saying at any given moment based on expression and intonation. Their close relationship negates any “vocabulistic”-based communication barrier – and this idea is further reinforced when you recognize that all of the Guardians understand Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

How Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Sets Up Groot’s Line With Gamora

While Guardians of the Galaxy features Peter Quill growing frustrated with Groot’s speech, James Gunn brings back the gag in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 with Gamora – who is a different version of the character than the one in the previous movies and has no relationship with the last known member of the species Flora colossus. Unlike all of the members of the titular team, she only hears “I am Groot” when he speaks… that is, right up until the end. Shortly before the “I love you guys” moment, Gamora has a moment where she has a normal conversation with Groot, and only after realizes that she could understand him. This is meant to be registered as a setup for the line getting the spotlight in this feature.

When the Guardians of the Galaxy series first launched in the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2014, we were like Star-Lord in the first film and Gamora in the third: Groot was new to us, and all we could hear him say was “I am Groot.” After Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, however, our relationship with the character has changed. We as an audience have spent enough time with him to perfectly understand what he is saying, and that’s what James Gunn is communicating with Groot’s beautiful, “I love you guys.”

It’s one of many wonderful touches in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which has rightfully earned widespread critical acclaim and is now playing in theaters everywhere. For further reading about the new movie and the broader franchise of which it’s a part, CinemaBlend provides plenty of options. You can read our breakdown of both the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ending and the Vol. 3 end credits, look back at the full franchise with our Marvel Movies In Order and Marvel Movies, Ranked features, and learn about everything that is on the way via our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Marvel TV guides.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.