Rocket Raccoon and Groot is definitely a friendship at the heart of the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. For three films and more, we saw this unlikely relationship grow and evolve, and the duo stole our hearts. But the MCU origins of how Rocket and Groot met and first became friends has remained something of a mystery. Now that the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has ended, at least, as we’ve come to know it, we’ve finally uncovered an answer to the question of this friendship’s beginning. So how did Rocket and Groot first meet in the MCU? James Gunn recently offered fans a pretty thorough answer, and it has to do with a Rocket and Groot short movie that never got made and a character mentioned in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Tibius Lark.

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When, Where, and How Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Rocket Met Groot in the MCU

Technically, James Gunn didn’t address the question of Rocket and Groot’s friendship origins, nor the question of how, when, or where they met in the Guardians of the Galaxy MCU world. In actuality, Gunn addressed the question you’re probably asking right now, “Who is Tibius Lark?” But by answering that query, Gunn also finally revealed how Rocket and Groot met one another before the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Who Is Tibius Lark in Guardians of the Galaxy?

If you don’t recall where you heard the name Tibius Lark before in the MCU, it’s because you haven’t. The name was only was briefly displayed in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. It appeared during the Guardian’s mugshot sequence with Nova Corps. Tibius Lark was said to be an associate of Groot’s, as seen in the sequence below.

But after this brief mention of Tibius Lark and his relationship with Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, we didn’t receive any further information about him from this Marvel franchise or any other. But it turns out Tibius Lark is incredibly important in the world of the MCU because he is actually responsible for Groot and Rocket’s friendship.

Tibius Lark Entrusted Groot to the Care of Rocket Raccoon, Marking the Origin of Their MCU Friendship

The short answer is that Rocket and Groot’s MCU friendship began in a well. The longer answer is much more intensive. James Gunn shares how and why Rocket and Groot met in the Marvel world before we came to know them as best friends via Threads. He reveals:

Tibius Lark, Groot, and Rocket were all imprisoned in a deep well in the ground. Tibius was on the verge of dying. He explained to Rocket he had been caring for Groot for years.

He was a former zookeeper in a shitty galactic-side zoo. He explained he had saved Groot, who was on exhibit there, & that Groot was a loyal friend. He asked Rocket to please take care of him, & then he died. As he died Rocket looked down in the dark cell & noticed he was a robot, the lower body of his body smashed open and mechanical.

The guards above ground heard something rumbling & they turned & saw Rocket & Groot bursting up from the ground, Rocket on Groot’s shoulder, & in Rocket’s hands was a machine gun made from Tibius Lark’s body, & he shot all the guards & they escaped & were together until they met the Guardians. That’s who Tibius Lark was.

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The confirmed story of how Rocket and Groot met is, in true Guardians of the Galaxy-style, a tragic one, much like their individual backstories. We can feel all the emotions it would have evoked, even from a brief description. The visual of Rocket on Groot’s shoulder as they burst from the ground is visceral. And we can see how the experience and their time together after bonded the pair. But there’s a good reason why the story feels has such depth. James Gunn almost made a short movie about Rocket and Groot’s origins for Marvel and the MCU.

The MCU Short Movie About Rocket and Groot’s Friendship Origins Was Shelved for Guardians of the Galaxy

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Gunn has spoken about this topic before, but he definitely reveals more about the Marvel short on Threads. He notes, “I wrote a short film explaining the origin of how Rocket & Groot met. It was even storyboarded & location scouted & we did test footage for it (it was seen at SDCC in the “trailer” we cut together after 12 days of shooting). But I didn’t have time to do it as Vol 1 amped up.”

With Gunn now creating a new cinematic world for DC movies, it seems unlikely the Rocket and Groot short Marvel movie will be resurrected. However, we have learned to never say never. Still, we appreciate that Gunn is so openly sharing the details that didn’t quite make it on screen. Otherwise, would always have wondered how Rocket and Groot’s Guardians of the Galaxy friendship came to be and how they came to meet. To all of this, we say, “ I am Groot!