Groot is many things: wise beyond his words, adorable in his baby form, sassy as a handheld game-loving teenager, selfless, a true team player. And, as seemingly evidenced in Avengers: Infinity War, Groot is also as worthy as the God of Thunder himself to wield an Asgardian weapon. Or so it seems.
Infinity War co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo have finally revealed how Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) was able to lift Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) new weapon in the film.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor, Groot, and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) travel to Nidavellir to meet with Eitri (Peter Dinklage), the Asgardian Dwarf and weapons forger who created Thor’s fearsome Mjolnir — the hammer that the Norse God’s evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok. After sparking up a dying star and reactivating the forge to channel its raw energy, the foursome craft Thor’s killer new weapon: the hammer-meets-battle-ax known as Stormbreaker.
The only thing missing from the weapon, intended to kill Thanos (Josh Brolin), was a handle. (Can’t literally cut the evil purple dude down to size without something to swing the ax head from, right?) Groot steps up and offers Thor one of his arms to use as the weapon’s helve, causing every viewer to let out an “aww” at his act of bravery and at the growing bond between the blonde-tressed god and tiny teen tree.
But wait just a Marvel minute — if only those who proved themselves worthy were able to lift Thor’s old weapon Mjolnir, how can Groot pick up Thor’s shiny new villain-slaying toy Stormbreaker? Is our beloved Groot on an equal playing field as Thor (and Paul Bettany’s Vision) in the eyes of the Asgardian spirits?
As much as we love Groot and think he’s oh-so special, that isn’t the case.
After a fan asked the Russo Brothers to explain the scene, wondering whether Groot was suddenly deemed worthy, the pair disclosed that Groot was able to lift Stormbreaker because the weapon doesn’t have the same rules as Mjolnir.
“Mjolnir requires worthiness, not Stormbreaker,” the directors wrote on Twitter.
There’s actually a bit of a catch when it comes to this statement. Sure, anyone can pick up Stormbreaker regardless of pre-determined suitability, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to lift the weapon. With Mjolnir, it was about both worth and physical strength — but no matter how buff one was, if the Asgardian gods didn’t consider them fit to wield it, they couldn’t. With Stormbreaker, it’s a different story. Carrying such a special weapon is not only a great responsibility, but it also requires of the holder great power. It’s sort of a reverse Spider-Man situation.
And let’s remember that it isn’t as though Groot lifted Stormbreaker like it was a piece of cosmic candy that had been dropped on the ground. He was in a great deal of pain as he wound his arm around the weapons’ two parts and before snapping it off to be used as a handle. Groot even got burned when he put his little hands on Stormbreaker after it was freshly forged. While he appears to be as physically strong as Thor (at least from this isolated incident), Groot isn’t invincible just because he can lift the same weapon the Norse God can.
However, Groot’s ability to hold Stormbreaker could signal something much bigger than simply how powerful the Guardian is.
There’s a popular fan theory that suggests Groot, who crumbled away into space dust after Thanos’ culling at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, will come back to life in Avengers 4, reborn through the wood in Stormbreaker. Groot sacrificed himself in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, remerging after death as his infant self, so could he perform another self-resurrection in the upcoming Avengers movie?
It might sound like a long shot to some, but Joe Russo, who directs Avengers 4 with brother Anthony, hasn’t ruled it out completely. “I don’t know if every piece of him that detaches … can grow a future version of him, but who’s to say?” the filmmaker told Huffington Post. “That’s an interesting question.”
Interesting enough to keep our minds busy while we wait for Avengers 4 to drop next May? We think so.