Screenshot: Avengers: Infinity War

[The following contains major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and the Guardians Of The Galaxy films.]

In the Guardians of the Galaxy films (and, of course, Avengers: Infinity War) Groot is a tree with superpowers that, in lieu of conventional speech, can only utter the words “I am Groot.” That sounds very, very silly on paper, but Guardians director James Gunn has continually given us reasons to not just care about the character, but also to get kinda weepy about it.

First, there was Groot’s major sacrifice at the end of the first Guardians, which found the tree subsequently resurrected as a wee sapling named, appropriately, Baby Groot. Then Gunn made us pray for a plant heaven by informing us that, no, Groot is totally dead and Baby Groot is his son. But parentage is a slippery thing in the Guardians universe; themes of adopted families and father figures abound in the stories of Star-Lord, Gamora, and, as Gunn revealed on Twitter last night, Groot.

Groot is a sullen teenager at the beginning of Infinity War, but not so sullen that he doesn’t lend his limbs to the final battle. Unfortunately, the tree-teen (treen?) turns out to be one of the several Avengers to drift into ash once Thanos activates the Infinity Gauntlet, with his final “I am Groot” being delivered to partner-in-crime Rocket Raccoon. We may have been too busy grieving Spider-Man, however, to give his goodbye the thought it deserved. Luckily, one fan went straight to the source, asking Gunn via Twitter what Groot’s last words truly meant.

Unlike Peter Parker’s improvised (and heartbreaking) farewell, Gunn clarified that this meaning was indicated in the script, and, in retrospect, you can discern it from Vin Diesel’s tender line reading. And while it gives an added weight to he and Rocket’s relationship, it also functions similarly to Parker’s final plea in reminding us that these characters are still just kids.

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Anyway, Gunn’s sorry if he made you cry at work.