In 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy overcame all the odds and transformed obscure comic book characters into international movie stars, making household names of its strange collection of characters. Arguably the most famous member of the team is the tree-like alien Groot, who proved to be an extremely affecting presence in the film despite his limited vocabulary. He was a lovable figure and his self-sacrifice towards the end was an emotional moment that endeared him to everyone. It goes without saying Groot returns for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but something’s a little different about him.
Writer/director James Gunn purposely altered the timeframe for the sequel so that instead of a fully grown Groot, Baby Groot took center stage in Vol. 2. That decision has paid off nicely so far, as the adorable toddler is the clear breakout sensation of the marketing campaign, winning audiences over with his cuteness and fondness for atomic bombs. There’s a chance Baby Groot is more of a viewer favorite than his adult counterpart, and Gunn actually felt the younger Groot was easier to work with during the creative process.
Screen Rant had the opportunity to visit the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 set in April 2016 and spoke with Gunn, where Groot was one of the topics discussed. The filmmaker was asked which version was easier to film:
Quite honestly, I’d say baby Groot, but the reason for that is unknown. A lot of times on the first movie we were like “are we even putting Groot in this movie?” Because Sean [Gunn] plays Rocket on set, and he’s so present as Rocket that you’re very aware of Rocket as a character. The guy playing Groot was a stand-in on the last movie and so he was there we just kind of always forgot he was there. He doesn’t talk very much, so you’re doing all these scenes and when we have the scenes in the movie where they turn to Groot and Groot’s like “why are you forgetting me?” That’s really what we felt like while we were shooting the first film.
And I think also, the whole personality of Groot and who he was, it was there on the page and then you forget about it while you were shooting the first movie. But now everyone knows Groot so well that we have a much larger awareness, me and the cast, of a baby Groot being there at all times.
Gunn makes an interesting point about the first movie. While people were certainly aware of Groot, there were times when he felt like a lingering background character. Given his unique way of speaking, he can’t always take part in intricate dialogue sequences (constantly hearing “I am Groot” runs the risk of getting repetitive), so at some points the best thing he could do was just stand there and take it all in. Changing things up and having him be an impressionable child in the sequel gives Gunn a fun new angle to explore that should yield strong results. As a baby, Groot is going to be at least somewhat dependent on his older friends to get by in life, and Rocket, Star-Lord, Drax, and Gamora have to watch over him like parents. With family being a running theme in Vol. 2, there will hopefully be some touching character moments between the main group.
Gunn also mentioned he feels Baby Groot is “a better written character than the first Groot in some ways,” so it will be fascinating to see how that comes into fruition. Having Groot be more “complete” this time around certainly can’t hurt the film’s prospects, especially since it was Gunn’s intention to craft a different kind of movie with the sequel. It’s key for franchise installments to continuously bring new ideas to the table so they feel fresh, and it sounds like Baby Groot was one of the best ways to accomplish that. Gunn knows better than most what makes this material click, so he should be trusted to steer Vol. 2 in the right direction.
Source: James Gunn