Rocket may be the brains of the outfit, deciding what bounty they should collect and creating weapons or escape plans out of randomly available materials like a tiny, hairy McGyver. But Groot is the heart and soul of the Guardians, not just "Rocket's personal houseplant/muscle."
Groot's a selfless hippie with a mean streak wider than the killer rabbit's from Holy Grail. He's not so self-absorbed as to only be thinking about money, the way his counterpart does, and will stop what he's doing to hand a flower to a child. And if need be, he'll sacrifice himself for the greater good. He doesn't just see the big picture; he acts upon that knowledge to preserve it.
Admit it, you teared up. It's cool -- we all did.
Do you really think Rocket would ever even consider that? He'd rather take down as many with him as possible. When Ronan gets his hands on the Infinity Stone, Rocket wants to bail out of that quadrant of the galaxy, innocents be damned ("Why would you want to save the galaxy?"). Groot is with Star-Lord, saying that they should do what they can to help. At least, I think that's what he said ... Hell, even when Rocket agrees to help, he still says, "Fine, but I can't promise when all of this is over, I'm not going to kill every last one of you jerks." Not a team player.
Rocket even mocks Drax for having lost his family, saying, "Aww, boo-hoo. My wife and child are dead." Even knowing how Rocket is, that genuinely shocks the empathetic Groot. Rocket isn't just a dick -- he's a full-on villain.
There's a reason the only friend he ever had was barely capable of communication.
Groot is bulletproof, incapable of feeling fear, the most human of all the characters in Guardians (though the only non-mammal), and, oh yeah, unkillable. Blown up by a spaceship crashing into a planet? Not a problem. Pick up a random branch from the debris, plant it, and he'll be bopping to the Jackson 5 before the end credits roll.
Rocket may take the piss (shut up, I'm British), but in the prison, after Star-Lord stops Drax from killing Gamora and they all make a deal to escape, Groot is ready and waiting to get his just dues. He knows he will be wanted at some point, and there's no way he's doing it for free. "Asleep for the danger, awake for the money, as per frickin' usual," as Rocket puts it. Pretty savvy for someone they all think is "a dumb tree." Then, when they're effecting their escape from the prison, Groot takes the bull by the horns and removes the quarnex battery from the panel high up on the wall, not wasting any time with useless jibba-jabba. Groot is a being of action -- here's the problem, here's the solution, now do it.
He even has a solution if the problem is a lack of mood lighting.
Star-Lord gets it. When he's presenting his plan to them all, he says, "Groot's the only one of you who has a clue." Which, after the end credits roll, I think we'd all agree with. So if my choice for a leader is between a sympathetic bulletproof humanoid tree (who might be the greatest hero of the 21st Century) and a shit-talkin' gun-totin' selfish raccoon? That's easy: I am Groot.
Groot may be the most overpowered sidekick of all time, but some sidekicks do just suck. Take a look at the most useless in in The 5 Worst Comic Book Sidekicks Of All Time, and see some heroes who are even worse in 5 Beloved Superheroes Who Are Actually Really Stupid.
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