Groot, the lovable Flora Colossus and best friend to Rocket Raccoon, made his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In that film, he was the team’s dependable bruiser, a towering combatant who could use his unique tree-like biology to take down bad guys and defend his friends. He can also only vocalize by saying “I am Groot,” due to his species’ unusual vocal cords.
During the film’s climactic final battle against Ronan the Accuser, the team was nearly defeated when an explosion threatened to overtake Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, and Rocket. Thinking fast, Groot expanded his limbs and created a barrier from his own body to shelter his friends. His touching last words, “We are Groot,” gave the team a rallying cry when they faced off against Ronan in an emotional duel. Thankfully, Groot’s Flora Colossus physiology allowed him to recover from near-total destruction when Rocket planted a piece of him in a pot with some soil.
The resulting Groot sapling, affectionately known as “Baby Groot” to fans, stole the show in the post-credits scene of Guardians, dancing and bopping to the music aboard the Milano and slowly regenerating from his wounds. While Groot’s essentially an adolescent Colossus in the current MCU timeline, a new animated series titled I Am Groot follows him during his early days as a sapling after regenerating from the battle with Ronan.
I Am Groot
The animated series comprises five short vignettes that show Groot’s first adventures as a sapling after regenerating from his near-death experience. In the first short, Groot’s First Steps, we see that Groot is still confined to the planter that Rocket dropped him in at the end of the first Guardians film. He’s being tended by automated drones that spritz him with water and keep him out of trouble. However, he’s starting to outgrow his pot–thanks partly to a steady diet of cheese puffs that he probably shouldn’t be eating.
After growing too big for his housing, the automated drones move Groot to a nearby table to make room for an elegant, bonsai-like tree. The robots even put Groot’s blanket on the newcomer, incensing the young Flora Colossus and triggering a series of slapstick attempts to reclaim his rightful place by the window. In the ensuing hijinks, Groot accidentally destroys his pot and finally takes his ritual first steps out into the Milano.
This short is cute, but it also shows an interesting element of the regenerated Groot’s childhood. Apparently, the crew of the Milano didn’t do much to keep up with his maintenance when he was young, instead leaving the task to automated systems. This could explain why Baby Groot is so fiercely independent in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The Little Guy
The second short, titled The Little Guy, shows Groot working to create a tree house for himself on a barren planet. As a slight aside–is it weird for Groot to construct a dwelling for himself that’s made out of wood? Would that be like a human constructing a home from skin? In any event, Groot’s dwelling is suddenly overtaken by a territorial Vyloo, a cute alien bird. Another alien swoops in and grabs the Vyloo, destroying all of Groot’s hard work and leading to an adorable comedic cut of Groot apparently throwing a tantrum for 37 minutes.
After calming himself down, Groot lifts a rock and finds a tiny species of blue-skinned aliens that comics fans will recognize as the diminutive Grunds. Groot briefly relishes being the big guy for once, accidentally causing panic in the tiny Grund society just by introducing himself. The tiny civilization “defends” itself, flinging rocks at Groot before suddenly developing laser weapons and jetpacks to assault the baby Flora Colossus. In a fit of fear, Groot drops a leaf, which the Grunds gratefully feast on.
Thinking he might be able to salvage a friendship with the tiny society, Groot runs to a nearby tree and grabs a huge armful of leaves. In his haste to get back to the Grunds, however, Groot accidentally steps on them and crushes their little city. A few pop their heads up and look around quizically, though, so they’re probably okay.
The third short, Groot’s Pursuit, sees the little tree-man awakened from his slumber by a crashing sound. He’s apparently aboard the Quadrant, a Ravager ship that audiences first saw in the second Guardians film. It’s the front section of Yondu’s Eclector, the massive Ravager ship that serves as the main location in the second act of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Groot finds nothing amiss at first after searching the ship’s corridors, though some kind of liquid creature can be seen stalking him from the shadows. He runs to the restroom before returning to bed, which raises some questions about the digestive system of the Flora Colossi, and reads what appears to be the Kree version of Everyone Poops. Never change, James Gunn.
Groot stumbles into the creature responsible for the noises, and it assumes his shape before challenging him to a fight. Groot obliges–kind of. He challenges the creature to a dance-off, perhaps inspired by Star-Lord’s dance-off against Ronan in the first Guardians film. Unlike the Accuser, this liquid doppelganger obliges and tries to keep pace with Groot before the Flora Colossus tricks him into an airlock and sends him into space. He defiantly notes “I am Groot,” before returning to his room.
Groot Takes a Bath
Contrary to popular belief, Flora Colossi need to bathe, apparently. In Groot Takes a Bath, the fourth vignette, the Milano is parked on a lush alien world where Groot finds a mud puddle in which he can wash his bark. By taking a dip in the mud, Groot causes his tree-like body to sprout foliage rapidly. At first, this causes him some distress before he realizes the leaves turn colors and fall away just as swiftly when he’s away from the water for an extended period.
Seeing an opportunity to play around, Groot uses the water to create foliage in the shape of various outfits, akin to the way a child would play with the suds in a bubble bath. He initially gives himself a mustache and becomes a boxer, and then he creates foliage in the shape of a dolphin. He even creates a centaur-like appearance by giving himself the hindquarters of a horse out of the leaves before doing his best Disney Princess impression and giving himself a “dress” and flowing “hair.” It’s all quite cute and certainly an attempt by Disney to sell a variety of adorable Baby Groot toys inspired by the short vignette.
Finally, Groot gets a much more permanent fashion statement when an alien squirrel/bird hybrid heckles him from a nearby tree. He quickly shaves the creature and turns its gorgeous feathers (or maybe fur?) into a colorful scarf that he can wear back to the Milano. Eagle-eyed fans will certainly hope to spot this colorful accessory at some point during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but by then, it’s possible Groot will have fully outgrown his stylish impromptu scarf.
The fifth and final short in the series, Magnum Opus, is also the only one to feature direct appearances from any of the other Guardians. Since this is technically an animated show, though, the only other character we see directly is Rocket, voiced as always by Bradley Cooper. Like Groot, Rocket is actually created for the films using advanced computer graphics, making him an animated character, not a live-action one like Star-Lord and Drax.
Groot runs around the Quadrant, looking for various materials to help him create… something. It’s interesting that the Guardians are aboard Yondu’s ship in this short, and this setting suggests the team might have crossed paths with the Ravagers between the events of the first and second films. Groot steals soap from Drax as he showers, an armful of gadgets from Rocket, and he even grabs one of Peter Quill’s rocket boots to help him weld all these items together.
Rocket rushes in as Groot prepares an explosive to get glitter from a circuit board. He’s relieved to see Drax’s soap and notes that the big man “won’t shut up about it,” as the bomb ticks away in the corner. Demanding to see what the little guy is working on, Rocket sees the “opus” from the title: a crudely-drawn picture of all the Guardians wrapped up in Groot’s life-saving embrace from the first film, showing that the infant Groot remembers his first life.
Was There a Point?
In a general sense, these shorts did nothing to advance the plot of the MCU as a whole, the Guardians of the Galaxy series, or indeed even Groot himself. The small reminder that Groot might remember his life as a Guardian before being replanted is touching, and any amount of time spent watching a baby Flora Colossus get into trouble throughout the galaxy is a blast, though.
Honestly, I really wish Marvel had used these shorts as pre-movie warmups before future MCU titles, in the same vein as how Disney runs animated short films before its own features. However, even as a cute little diversion just dropped onto Disney+, these five shorts serve as a cute check-in with Groot and a great way to get excited about the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special later this year. Oh, and don’t forget about Guardians 3, which hits theaters on May 5, 2023.