We know that when we see Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 he's not going to look the same as he did the first time we met him. However, as it turns out, he almost looked very different from that to begin with. Jackson Sze is a senior illustrator at Marvel Studios, and so he's responsible for creating much of the concept art that eventually influences the look of the films. One of Sze's early ideas for the big living tree was something different from the one we eventually saw.
This version of Groot has a bit more of a defined body than the one we got. He looks more like a person make of wood than he does a walking tree trunk. It's a nuanced difference, to be sure, but trees don't usually have a waist, like this version of Groot does. The head is also slightly rounder than the one we eventually saw.
Based on the final version of Groot it would appear the decision was to make the character much more like a tree. This resulted in a much more elongated design that made him look much more like a walking tree trunk. While certainly still humanoid, those characteristics are much more muted in the final design.
It looks like Jackson Sze may have also had a hand in making the shift to the Groot that we got as well. While this image of Groot was posted by Sze a while back, he recently posted this other image of a Groot much more, but not exactly, like the one we know. In addition to recognizing the look, you'll likely also recognize the scene it was taken from.
While this is much closer to the final version of Groot, even this one is a bit different. The physical shape is on point but the final version of Groot was covered in flat bark, this one looks to be wrapped in vines and branches.
It's an interesting examination of how a character evolves over time. Even for a character that appears as simple as Groot, several different ideas were tried, and scrapped, for any number of reasons. It's also a team effort. There are many different artists involved in the process, leading to, one expects, a nearly endless stream of ideas.
Which version of Groot do you like the best? Would you have rather seen him look like one of these concepts rather that the final version we saw? Let us know in the comments.