Review by Adam Donato
As Marvel fanboys still find themselves inundated with the bevy of Comic-Con news regarding their favorite cinematic universe, I Am Groot arrives on Disney+ not long after. The content is a short series of bits starring everyone’s favorite vocabularist from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Including credits, the entirety of it lasts just over twenty minutes as there are about five episodes at four minutes a piece. With the Guardians franchise coming to an end with their third movie, it is quite opportune for Marvel to capitalize on their brand while they’re still around. The real question is, how will a show like this fit into the MCU?
I Am Groot seems to be going the same route as fellow Disney+ series, Dug Days and Baymax! Take a cute, funny and animated side character from one of your iconic films. Give them a short, standalone, and episodic series showcasing their independent shenanigans. While it’s easy to be critical and cynical about Disney’s conveyor belt of content to maintain the necessity for audiences to subscribe to their streaming service, this seems to be the least divisive direction to go with these intellectual properties. It’s cute, fun, and full of heart. You’re in and you’re out. The show is short enough to be binged in less time than it takes to watch a movie, but can be spread out into individual bits. Unlike Baymax and Dug Days, there is zero connective tissue tying the I Am Groot episodes together.
More so than the Disney+ shows, I Am Groot is quite like the Disney Animation or Pixar shorts that play before their feature films. Which begs the question, why not do this more frequently and put these shorts before MCU films. Marvel die hard fans will see every movie, but not everyone will go to the theater for a Black Widow or Eternals or Ant-Man standalone movie. That being said, everyone loves Baby Groot. Just look at the obscene amounts of Baby Yoda merch and say that a percentage of casual moviegoers would not go see a movie they normally wouldn’t see because there’s a Baby Groot short. Why limit it to just the one series? Regularly produce one shot shorts like Marvel used to do with their blu ray releases and show them before the feature. It would be a fun and low risk way to experiment with smaller characters and weird ideas.
The character being limited to three words and not having any English-speaking characters to fill the void presents an opportunity for visual storytelling to take priority. With the critical disappointment that was Thor: Love and Thunder largely being due to the cringe humor, having a show where the comedic focus isn’t cheesy one liners like “Eat this hammer!” helps make the MCU feel fresh. The level of animation and special effects doesn’t feel obnoxiously different. Many fans of Monsters, Inc. were disappointed with the show Monsters at Work because it looked like a downgrade, but here, it’s not a problem. They’re harmless and goofy shorts. Hopefully Marvel takes more opportunities like this since a problem Disney recently had with Obi-Wan Kenobi was that it felt stretched out. Groot doesn’t need a big epic series. Sometimes it’s nice to just hang out with these characters.
I Am Groot is the best MCU content since Avengers: Endgame. With all these other shows feeling like such an elongated commitment, it’s nice to have something that feels like a nice little appetizer. This show is exactly perfect for what it is. Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy are sure to be satiated. It’s not a must-see, but that’s what makes it work so well. Definitely check this one out exclusively on Disney+.
I Am Groot streams on Disney+ on August 10. All five episodes reviewed.