When Does I AM GROOT Take Place?

A transcription of this video is available below!

The first season of I Am Groot is here, and there’s been much confusion about whether or not it’s canon and if it should be placed on the MCU Timeline. So today we’re going to lay down all the evidence that suggests it may be or may not be canon, and find out whether we can place it on our timeline with any certainty.

Welcome to Geekritique, my name is Dakota. This video is part of a multi-video series called ‘When Does the MCU Take Place,’ where we take a deep dive into all the evidence that helps us determine when a title is placed on the timeline. In our last installment we broke down exactly where Ms. Marvel takes place and why it’s so important. I’ll leave a link in the description so you can check that out after this.

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I Am Groot is fascinating, because it’s so short and sweet and somehow so controversial in its relationship to canon. The confusion began when the Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn, declared the shorts weren’t “necessarily part of the Guardians saga.” He went on to say “they are special shorts and not canon to the Guardians saga.” Whether he’s referring to its MCU canonicity or simply trying to separate I Am Groot from his body of work on the Guardians films wasn’t entirely clear. Gunn later clarified that “some folks at Marvel seem to think it’s canonical MCU,” but that he finds it hard to see that himself. This is all very strange seeing as he’s one of the Executive Producers on I Am Groot, and the fact that he’s not seeing eye to eye on the matter of it being MCU canon with others is confusing. In fact, when asked what universe designation I Am Groot belonged to, he jokingly claimed it to be Pi, instead of the MCU’s self-designated 616.

One of those individuals from Marvel that believes the show to be MCU canon is Marvel’s own Head of Streaming, Brad Winderbaum. “It takes place actually between the end of Guardians 2 and before the tag scene in Guardians 2,” which is a reference to the fact that the fourth post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 occurs around 2018, shortly before Infinity War. And this makes sense, Groot clearly hasn’t aged much since the main events of Guardians 2, if at all. Kirsten* Lepore, a series director had similar sentiments on the series canonicity. “It’s set between the end of Guardians of the Galaxy all the way to the post-credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so there was a lot for us to play with in that time frame, which we hadn’t seen before this.”

What Kirsten* doesn’t touch on is how small of a time frame that actually is. The two Guardians films are separated by mere months. What would have taken a human child 2 to 3 years to reach toddlerhood, takes Groot only 2 to 3 months. He grows fast. Meaning these 5 shorts in I Am Groot have to occur within days or weeks of the ending of Guardians 2 in Fall 2014, unless Groot’s age just miraculously plateaus at his current state for plot reasons.

In my opinion, I think this is where James Gunn is getting stuck on its hold on canonicity. The fact that Groot doesn’t visibly age in the 4 separate shorts that occur post-Guardians 2 is difficult to overlook based on his onscreen growth cycle. There are some further clues within the shorts that confuse the time frame even more, which we’ll break down shortly. But suffice it to say, I Am Groot neither breaks canon, nor is it likely that it will ever be contradicted because it’s so irrelevant to the larger narrative of the Guardians Saga and the wider MCU. Whether you choose to consider it canon or not is up to you.

Disney+ has done us the favor of helping place the show on the timeline, which presumes that Marvel and/or Disney deem the show to be canon. Now while I don’t always trust the Disney+ MCU timeline, a hotly debated topic on this channel, it’s at least a starting point on our chronological journey. The Disney+ timeline has produced individual title cards for each entry of I Am Groot, which looks really clunky frankly but they help us determine which titles fit where. They’ve placed Groot’s First Steps between Guardians 1 and 2, while they place the rest of the titles after Guardians 2, in the order of The Little Guy, Groot’s Pursuit, Groot Takes a Bath, and Magnum Opus.

Each short has clues as to where each roughly fits on the timeline. The first, Groot’s First Steps, is the easiest to place. The mid-credits scene of the first Guardians film sees a newly potted Groot sapling begin to dance aboard the Milano. In Groot’s First Steps he’s grown enough aboard the ship to break free of the pot and take his first steps. This likely happens within a week or two of the first film, so placing it between the two Guardians films is a no-brainer.

The only determining factor for time in the remaining four shorts are the ships we see featured throughout. The Little Guy showcases the Benatar, the ship that would eventually replace the Milano after its destroyed in the second film. Groot Takes a Bath briefly features a ship’s wings whose colors best match with the Benatar’s color pattern as well. Before the Ravager ship the Eclector was destroyed, a portion of it called the Quadrant was separated and became the Guardians hub ship for a time following the destruction of the Milano. We see the Quadrant featured both in Groot’s Pursuit and Magnum Opus. All four of these shorts clearly occur shortly after Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.

But here’s where we run into a bit of a timing issue. The Benatar isn’t featured canonically in the films until Groot is a teenager, roughly around 2018, but according to these shorts the ship was being used for away trips just shortly after Guardians 2. By the time 2018 rolls around, the Guardians are no longer using the Quadrant at all, and are traveling with the Benatar full-time. Is this a clue that episodes 2 and 4, the episodes that feature the Benatar, take place after episodes 3 and 5, the ones that feature the Quadrant? Could the Disney+ timeline have these titles flipped about incorrectly? It’s possible, but not necessarily wrong.

Firstly, I think this may be one of the reasons James Gunn finds these to be non-canonical entries in the MCU; I personally wouldn’t have expected them to get the Benatar so quickly after Guardians 2. But alas, I Am Groot says they have their new ship in 2014, so let’s run with it. Notice how the two episodes that have the Benatar feature Groot on an away mission on some random planet, possibly waiting for the other Guardians to return. Also note that both Quadrant episodes occur while adrift in space. Is it possible that during their stay aboard the Quadrant, they used the ship as a hub for their considerably smaller M-Class ship, the Benatar, and only took the Benatar out during day trips when they visited land? It’s not only possible, it makes sense. “I am Groot.”We never see the Ravager vessel, the Quadrant, enter atmosphere or make landfall in the films. In fact, on their way to save the rest of the Guardians from Ego, the Quadrant stops, so a decidedly smaller vessel could make the rest of the journey onto the planet. I believe that’s what’s being depicted in these I Am Groot shorts. And if that’s the case I see no issue with the order in which these shorts are listed in the Disney+ timeline. If you choose to place episodes 2 and 4 after 3 and 5, go for it, more power to you, but I don’t think that’s necessary at all.

Because there’s nothing too contradictory here, besides the logic that Groot hasn’t aged, and that they procured the Benatar so quickly after the second film, I think it’s safe to place I Am Groot on our MCU timeline. I’ll place the first episode shortly after Guardians of the Galaxy, and I’ll batch the remaining four after Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 in the order it’s featured on Disney+. Our Patreon members will get exclusive access to a massive png of the updated MCU Timeline v7.3, while a smaller version will be available to check out on Twitter. I’ll leave a link in the description for that. Speaking of Patreon, we’ve had a huge influx of new patrons since our last video. Thank you all, you guys are letting me know that I’m doing something you enjoy and get value out of, so I’ll continue striving to make the most in-depth MCU timeline content on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this video, please don’t forget to throw a like my way, and what do you think? Is this show canon or not? Who do you believe more? Gunn? Winderbaum? Disney+? Me? Let me know down below, and don’t miss these other great timeline breakdowns on your way out. Thanks guys, have a good one.

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