There are a lot of big, memorable moments at the end of the first Guardians Of The Galaxy. Peter Quill dancing in the face of a CGI-slathered Lee Pace. Yondu and the Ravagers making their big hero moment. The improbably sudden appearance of Howard The Duck. But the big moment that everyone remembers is what happens to Vin Diesel’s gently violent plant monster Groot, who ends up sacrificing himself to keep the rest of the Guardians safe. Of course, James Gunn’s breakout blockbuster doesn’t end on a total downer note, because, ultimately, Groot survives, regrowing from a sapling cut from him, and even doing a fun, merchandising-friendly dance over the ending credits.
Except he didn’t, as Gunn noted (not for the first time) on Twitter today. Despite what fans might hope, Gunn made it very clear once again that Groot is dead as hell, and that the Baby Groot from the credits—and who features heavily in Guardians 2—is his son, not his regrown body. Gunn made this point in the middle of a debate with Entertainment Tonight host Ash Crossan about who you’d rather sacrifice, Groot or a Porg, so we have to assume that he was deadly fucking serious on this point. (Hilariously, Gunn was having this conversation while also debating people about Russian collusion in the U.S. government, making for a very surreal timeline-reading experience.)
Now, it’s possible that Gunn was just going for a low blow here—this is a pointless argument on the internet, so anything’s pretty much fair game—but if there was anyone in a position to state Groot’s status definitively, it’d be him. (And, as he noted later, it’s not like this is the first time he’s made this assertion, and Baby Groot’s lack of knowledge in Guardians 2 would seem to back him up.) That being said, you could always just ignore him; choosing between “death of the author” and “death of the beloved and heroic tree monster” is probably a much easier choice than “Groot v. Porg,” after all.