Is I Am Groot in the MCU? It's complicated

Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) smiles in Marvel Studios' I Am Groot
(Image credit: Marvel)

Now that I Am Groot is here, you might be wondering how important the show is to the MCU we've been following for ages now.

I Am Groot, a series of five animated shorts, shows us a peek of Groot's life, and it's supposed to take place after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but before one of its post-credits scenes. And this could make you think you understand its place in the MCU.

Unfortunately, two key figures in all things Guardians have given us some reason to think it's not that simple. 

Why we think I Am Groot is in the MCU

baby groot with sunglasses listening to a walkman

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

So, the reason to believe that I Am Groot is canonical comes from Brad Winderbaum, the Marvel Studios Head of Streaming. 

Winderbaum told, when asked about the film's placement, "It's a narrow window, right? It takes place actually between the end of Guardians 2 and before the tag scene in Guardians 2. So, it's in this narrow window where Groot in that kind of post toddler stage of development."

While we're not sure how much can happen in a span of a reportedly 20-minute long series of five shorts, Winderbaum's answer is pretty strong for what to believe Disney's view on the matter is.

Why I Am Groot might be non-canonical

Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn makes us think that "I Am Groot" doesn't exactly  into his Guardians movies. When asked for when the shorts take place on the overall timeline, Gunn gave a different answer than Winderbaum, saying they're "not necessarily part of the Guardians saga."

But since that didn't clear things up, Gunn replied to another question, one asking if the shorts "aren't canon then?" And this answer gives us much more clarity on how he views the shorts.

As if to say this doesn't pertain to my movies, Gunn said "They’re canon to themselves, I’d think." Which basically sounds like he's saying this is a one-off that isn't required watching before anything else.

Outlook: I Am Groot's roots are a matter of perspective

The answer, surprisingly, is seemingly one you can choose. Winderbaum's quotes seem to suggest that the folks at Disney see I Am Groot as MCU-connected and canonical. 

Meanwhile, James Gunn doesn't see I Am Groot as a chapter of his films. Since these shorts look playful and low-stakes, it's not hard to understand why. Also, he didn't write these shorts (Kirsten Lepore did), so they're not a part of Gunn's story.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.