If you were among the millions of Marvel fans who fell in love with Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, it seems you’ll love him even more in the sequel. According to writer-director James Gunn, Baby Groot became a “better-written character” after his breakout popularity.
“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,” Gunn told ComicBook.com in an interview. “But now everyone knows Groot so well that we have much larger awareness, me and the cast, of a Baby Groot being there at all times, and him being one of the members in the scene.”
He added, “I think he’s a better-written character than the first Groot in some ways. Not that he was poorly written at all, but I think he’s just [a] more complete character.”
Update: Gunn further clarified over Twitter that he doesn’t want to write off the Groot from Vol. 1. “Maybe it sounds dumb but it hurts me a bit to think I’m putting down Vol 1 Groot, 1 of my favorite characters I’ve brought to screen RIP,” he wrote.
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Gunn recalled of his experience shooting scenes with Groot during the first Guardians film, “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 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.”
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 returns Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot. The actor teased the character “couldn’t be more naive” when he meet him next. “I always think of the Groot that we saw on the first Guardians as a college-level Groot, so he’s not fully grown yet, but he’s a man. And once he sacrifices himself at the end of the movie, now he has to start all over, so to speak, but we’re gonna see this goofy, adorable, baby Groot thing running around the screen and just learning as he goes.”
Despite what some fans might believe, Gunn promised Baby Groot is not a ploy to sell more merchandise. “I’m sure some people think that but for me keeping him Baby Groot throughout the film was the creative change that opened the film up for me,” he tweeted.
The next Guardians film will open in theaters this May 5.