Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 will see the reunion of the team from Marvel’s 2014 blockbuster, but perhaps more importantly, it will introduce the cutest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Baby Groot.
Director James Gunn first introduced Baby Groot at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, following Groot’s self-sacrificing, heroic decision to save his friends by wrapping them in his embrace and protecting them as a spaceship hurtled toward the ground.
The adorable iteration of the character immediately found a fanbase among audiences, but it wasn’t until August 2015 that James Gunn confirmed Groot would be returning to the franchise and Vin Diesel would reprise his voice acting role as the character. In Feb. 2016, the first look at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was released and Gunn gave audiences their first glimpse at Baby Groot in the sequel.
Official Photography on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has begun. You're very welcome. pic.twitter.com/741upZ21g7— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 17, 2016
Gunn had hinted he was going to release something around February to mark the beginning of filming in Atlanta. In the photo, the silhouette of Baby Groot can be seen sitting atop Drax’s shoulders. A few months later at San Diego Comic-Con, the first footage from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was shown to a group gathered in Hall H. According to descriptions from the hall, the video showed off Baby Groot in action.
Continuing to ride the hype train following the panel, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige addressed the character in an interview with Collider. Feige let loose a few more details about Baby Groot, comparing him to Spock in Star Trek.
“He remembers,” Feige said. “He’s not mentally a baby, he is still Groot … I sort of equate it to Spock circa the end of Search for Spock and The Voyage Home.”
A few months later, Disney released another promotional image from the movie. In it, Baby Groot’s face can be seen much more clearly. You can see him hesitantly poking out from behind Star-Lord’s leg.
Disney and Gunn also published the first teaser for the movie. At just over a minute in length, the video marked the first time the heroes had been on screen together since the first film, but there was only a tiny glimpse at Baby Groot.
Baby Groot became so difficult to find — in both the teaser and the promotional image — that people started asking if the new Where’s Waldo? book could feature the new Marvel character. Luckily, fans wouldn’t have to wait too much longer to get their first real look at Baby Groot in action.
On Dec. 3, Marvel released the first official trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and the character who stole the show was undeniably Baby Groot. Although he’s only in a couple of scenes, the conversation that takes place between him and best friend Rocket Raccoon immediately became the trailer’s talking point.
Baby Groot’s presence in the trailer became so beloved — just look at that face — that people immediately started GIFing every moment Groot was in. A few of the best moments can be seen below.
After the teaser trailer was released, it was pretty quiet on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 front, but a couple of weeks later Gunn took to Facebook to explain why Baby Groot was in the movie in the first place. Gunn was accused by some fans of incorporating Baby Groot as a way to sell Disney merchandise and questioned the importance of the character in the film.
On Facebook, Gunn acknowledged the concerns, but vehemently denied the inclusion of the character was based solely on marketing decisions. Gunn added there was a very important reason Baby Groot was included in the cast and fans would understand that after they saw the movie.
“...I came upon the idea of having Vol. 2 take place very shortly after the first film and for Groot to still be Baby Groot, with quite a lot to learn,” Gunn wrote. “Even though I had already long ago decided on the other characters involved, this change opened up the whole movie for me and it suddenly all came together.
“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.”
Despite the controversy, Baby Groot remains one of the most anticipated characters in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, continuing to steal the show in every subsequent teaser and TV spot released. In the past couple of weeks, there have been two big Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 TV spots — one at the Super Bowl and one at the Grammy’s. Each time, the moment that people can’t stop talking about on Twitter and in forums features Baby Groot trying to do something and coming up a little short. Like the moment seen below from the Grammy’s TV spot.
Gunn, who has always been one of the most informative directors online, providing update after update on both Twitter and Facebook. In a fan Q&A this weekend, Gunn answered a question regarding Baby Groot that directly contradicts what Feige said last Comic-Con. According to Gunn, Baby Groot won’t remember anything from his past life, which makes sense based on the tone of all the trailers released thus far.
No. He has no memories of adult Groot. https://t.co/Cbmrbe2TOb— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 12, 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 recently took home a rare achievement of scoring a perfect 100 rating when screened for a test audience, and one has to imagine the presence of Baby Groot was a high point for those gathered. More information is expected to be released over the next few months, leading up to the film’s premiere. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 will be released in theaters on May 5, 2017.