Just two teaser trailers in, Baby Groot is already shaping up to be one of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s many scene stealers. Considering many fans would have assumed that just aging the character back to his fully grown form for the sequel would have just been the obvious choice, it seems like the decision to keep the character young is turning out to be one of writer and director James Gunn’s best choices for the highly-anticipated sequel. In fact, it seems to have just made the character’s stunted communication skills that much more charming and hilarious.
In hindsight, Baby Groot seems like a marketing dream decision also, with adult fans and kids likely going to be buying as many figures and promotional materials featuring the character that they can when the film is released. Turns out, though, it was the exact opposite of that initially.
In a new Facebook post, Gunn revealed that he was more afraid at first of pitching Baby Groot to the Marvel Studio heads than he was Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell), a character who’s one of Marvel’s most obscure and zany cosmic beings in the comics. But the director thought that keeping Groot a baby in the new film opened up the entirety of the script to whole new creative possibilities, and was the key to the whole film for him:
When I approached Marvel Studios with my idea for Vol. 2 I was afraid of the involvement of Ego the Living Planet – a rather, uh, broad character in the 616 universe of Marvel Comics. I was afraid of the inclusion of Mantis and Ayesha, and more prominent roles for Nebula and Yondu. But I was even more afraid of approaching them with the concept that Baby Groot, and not Groot, would be a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, perhaps it seems like a hole-in-one idea now, but Groot was the most popular character in the first film, and sometimes when something works studios are more than a little reluctant to change.
To my happy surprise, my partners at Marvel were more than supportive about the big swings in the story of Vol. 2. They seemed to instinctively know, like I did, that what matters in the Guardians franchise is to keep giving people the unexpected…
All that said, I’m not an idiot. I knew if Baby Groot worked, the world would want Baby Groot toys and figures and plushies. But that certainly didn’t seem like a certainty when I was alone in my office conceiving of a story, and it most definitely was not the driving force of the decision. I, like so many of you through the trailer alone, had fallen in love with the little dude – even though at that point he was only in my head.
Indeed, Baby Groot is already becoming a fan-favorite, and his fun banter with Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) in the film’s latest trailer is among its many highlights. How he ends up maturing throughout the film, both physically and emotionally, should be one of Vol. 2‘s more interesting arcs to watch, especially considering the character’s childlike personality seems to be a perfect reflection the adolescence of the Guardians themselves as a group, and the many things they still have left to learn about working together.
Baby Groot played a large role in the San Diego Comic-Con footage that was shown, which included an entire sequence from the film focusing solely on him, Rocket, and Michael Rooker’s Yondu. It was the first signs of what Baby Groot was going to be bringing to the sequel, and the promise of that scene already seems to be paying off in the new trailers and promotional artwork released for Vol. 2 so far. Keeping the character so young may not have been the expected or obvious route, but it’s clear that Baby Groot is going to be bringing an entirely different change of pace and additional dynamic to an already unconventional, beloved group of onscreen misfits.