This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the show being covered here wouldn’t exist.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t had its best year. With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion giving more low-quality titles to the once critic-proof successful brand of films that have populated our screens for the past 10+ years, we’re slowly witnessing its demise as the sole focus in our collective zeitgeist. Quality is an issue, but the sheer volume of titles that have risen the franchise to FORTY-FIVE (in fifteen years! insane) is also part of the problem. And even if audience interest isn’t as strong as before, the franchise shows no signs of slowing down. It is continuing its latest iteration with the second season of I Am Groot, an animated series of shorts featuring the titular character in its baby form, voiced by Vin Diesel.
This season, Groot goes on several mini-adventures, ranging from inconsequential to world-altering consequences. The show’s last episode sees Groot go on an adventure where the fate of the world (and perhaps the multiverse) is at stake, with The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) observing Groot’s every move, as ridiculous as they are, without interfering. I’ll be honest and say that this was my least favorite episode of the season. Sure, it was great to see Wright reprise his role for a brief short and have a more self-aware posture than how he approached the character in What If…?, but it was also too short for its small story to be developed in a more engaging light than an extremely brief mission where Groot could’ve caused an incursion (I’m joking, of course, but if you’ve seen episode four, you don’t know what he’s capable of).
As funny as many of the shorts are, the fact that they’re only three-to-five-minute bite-sized episodes hinders most of them. Groot explores several worlds and goes on many hijinks, but their pace always feels consistently rushed. The only episode where its timing and pace are perfect is its fourth, where Groot tries to find money to buy some ice cream. The first season of I Am Groot set up the character as a cold-blooded murderer (oh yeah) and wasn’t afraid to craft amazingly dark jokes through Groot’s unpredictable moves. I won’t spoil what happens in this episode, but director Kirsten Lepore knows exactly what to show the audience without revealing too much until the punchline frames Groot as an even more problematic (and perhaps) dangerous character. I was laughing my pants off when it happened.
Part of the charm of the first season of I Am Groot was how darkly funny it was and how each short bordered on the line between acceptable and unacceptable comedy. The second season is perhaps lighter in tone than the first (save for the fourth episode), but it also provides big laughs through other forms of comedy. Groot is far more physical here and is more curious than in the first season, leading into some unexpectedly funny territory with some of the most random humor possible. In the second episode, Groot accidentally attaches a prosthetic nose to his face and starts to discover his sense of smell. He eventually smells a pineapple-scented Sharpie. That’s how deep (and surprisingly off-kilter) the humor gets. We shouldn’t smell Sharpies; the health risks are overwhelmingly dangerous…but any elementary school kid may or may not have done it once (or twice). They smelled so damn good.
Yes, the second season of I Am Groot won’t reinvent the wheel nor move the MCU forward. Sorry, Watcher fans, but his presence here is meaningless to the franchise’s future. If you’re a massive MCU fan consistently looking for new content, then yes, you’ll probably love it. If you’re not as enthused by the franchise as you once were, you can skip it and lose nothing of its continuity. Still, the second season of I Am Groot is far more enjoyable than it has any right to be, especially after the franchise-low Secret Invasion. If anything, it’s a great palate cleanser to wash away the bad taste of that nearly unwatchable finale. I’ll never know how they fumbled the bag on this so hard, but at least we’ve got Groot picking us up again and telling us to forget about all this. And if they do another collection of shorts, I’d watch it in a heartbeat.
All episodes of I Am Groot – Season 2 are now available to stream on Disney+.