The good news? The good news is that I Am Groot isn’t that far away. The series of five photorealistic animated shorts featuring Baby Groot is going to premiere on Disney+ Wednesday, August 10. The bad news? Well, if you’re a stickler for Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity and need to know when everything happens in relation to everything else, Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn has some bad news for you. Officially speaking, I Am Groot is not necessarily part of Guardians continuity.
At least, that’s what Gunn made it sound like over the weekend. On Sunday, Gunn — who serves as executive producer on I Am Groot — posted an announcement of the series’ release date. A fan asked the director whether the show takes place before or after the events of 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Gunn responded, “They are animated shorts so not necessarily part of the Guardians saga.” You can see the Twitter exchange below.
So what does this mean exactly? Is I Am Groot definitely not a part of the MCU? Is the series part of an alternate reality? If you find yourself asking these questions because you need to know where to fit I Am Groot into a massive Marvel marathon, it may be that you’re taking the whole question of continuity a little too seriously. As Slash Film points out, in most likelihood it isn’t a question of when the shorts fit into the timeline or if they’re taking place on Earth-349345 or not. The most probable answer is that I Am Groot exists much like Taika Waititi’s Team Thor shorts in which Chris Hemsworth stars as the titular thunder god, hanging out with his roommate Darryl (Daley Pearson) and desperately hoping either Captain America or Iron Man will invite him to one of their warring teams. Neither of those shorts are considered canon, and neither is Team Darryl in which Jeff Goldblum replaces Thor as the hapless Darryl’s roommate. Nor have any of those stories been slotted in some specific corner of the multiverse.
It’s only speculation, but it’s not out of the question that James Gunn isn’t comfortable with the idea of I Am Groot being a part of Guardians canon precisely because it’s the only Guardians-specific project so far that he isn’t personally writing and directing. Yes, the team appeared in both of the last Avengers movies and are a month away from showing up in Thor: Love and Thunder, but the star-bound heroes aren’t the focus of those projects. Even the upcoming The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is both written and directed by Gunn and so — unlike the infamous The Star Wars Holiday Special from which it’s clearly taking inspiration — will be considered canon, regardless of how many intensely ugly Wookiee kids show up.
Of course, as long as nothing in I Am Groot directly contradicts MCU continuity, there’s no reason not to fit it into your marathon wherever you think it makes the most sense. It would have to be somewhere between the end of the first Guardians flick and its follow-up. Depending on how you view the Teen Groot mid-credits scene of Vol. 2, you may or may not get away with fitting it between Vol. 2 and Infinity War. Either way, all five episodes drop on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 10.