In a seemingly endless stream of Marvel content, I Am Groot is the latest to try to entrap viewers with dazzling visuals and endearingly simple storylines. Groot the Tree is the latest to get a chance in the spotlight. If you’re feeling the Marvel fatigue, this series of five shorts may just be what you need to re-enter the gargantuan franchise that is the MCU. Rather than focusing on the drama of that superhero life, this is a fun interlude that’ll make people of all ages come away smiling. For all of its imperfections, I Am Groot is Marvel’s silliness, chaos, and color at its finest.
Vin Diesel is back, charming us all with his beloved rendition of a single phrase. By highlighting I Am Groot, it’s clear that the Guardians of the Galaxy would function just fine without Hollywood’s weakest Chris. Really, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket and this baby tree are more than fine on their own. Add Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista, and a strong argument could be made for throwing out the garbage Chris entirely. As someone who never fully connected with the Guardians, I Am Groot is a refreshing change of pace.
Perhaps surprisingly, I Am Groot uses this series of shorts to further explore the duality of Marvel’s beloved tree. He’s certainly cute and cuddly. However, I Am Groot manages to elevate its storytelling from age-appropriate tales of learning from mistakes to becoming a fascinating character study of an animated humanoid tree. Groot is surprisingly brutal when he wants to be, and it’s frankly alarming. If Guardians 2 showed us what this character is capable of, I Am Groot just expanded further.
As expected with any Guardians-adjacent project, I Am Groot makes fantastic use of music. Arguably, the best comes in Groot’s Pursuit and Magnum Opus, respectively. The music adds to the story, Featuring Tito Puente and Jimmy Cliff; the only thing to be said about the music is that it’s a shame that there isn’t more of it. There are only five episodes, all less than five minutes. It’s honestly impressive that the creators were able to incorporate the music that they did. And yet, we’d expect nothing less than the franchise whose personality is classic beats.
In terms of the order of episodes to watch, one could simply watch the shorts in any order to fully embrace the chaos. If you’re looking for a more ordered approach, however, start with Groot’s First Steps and end with Magnum Opus. In between, watch The Little Guy, Groot Takes a Bath, and Groot’s Pursuit in that order to achieve maximum anarchy. I will not be elaborating on this guidance.
The animation and effects are appropriately stunning. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss the work that goes into making animated projects for Marvel. This is no easy feat. The use of color, the attention to detail, and the set design all require immense talent. There’s a fallacy that animation is somehow “easier” than live-action projects. Nothing could be further from the truth. The effort put into I Am Groot deserves nothing but our utmost respect.
If we respect these artists as we should, it follows that they need to receive sufficient compensation for their work. With the imminent release of She-Hulk, more artists have spoken about the unfair expectations that they face from Marvel paired with laughably abysmal compensation. I Am Groot is a great reminder of not only the effort that goes into making these projects but why they deserve fair wages and an appropriate time frame to make them come together. There is far more to these massive explosions of color than what appears on-screen. This storytelling that captivates fans demands that each and every artist involved, at each level of production, be paid what their work is worth.
I Am Groot, in five short entries, manages to charm and remind fans what makes the MCU so watchable. It’s fun, simple, with lots of pretty colors. At its core, however, there’s a magnetic story about a tree that is incredibly human. Marvel is learning that its success lies in highlighting these secondary characters from comic canon. Hopefully, the next lesson Marvel can learn is to fully compensate artists who bring these characters and these stories to life.
I Am Groot is available to stream on Disney+.