Any Marvel fan with a heart was certainly relieved when they discovered that Groot, the heart and soul of the Guardians of the Galaxy could’ve been — gasp — Ewok levels of corny.

Thankfully, that’s not the case. Baby Groot is in a lot of Vol. 2, but it doesn’t feel like too much Baby Groot. His cuteness doesn’t feel overbearing or forced, and it doesn’t get old.

Some light Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 spoilers to follow.

Vol. 2’s opening credits are pure, unadulterated Baby Groot. While the adult Guardians fight some interdimensional tentacle-beast, Baby Groot dances in the foreground to the tune of Electric Light Orchestra’s 1977 classic, “Mr. Blue Sky.” It’s a pretty naked attempt to recapture the magic of the “I Want You Back” dance (to the point where it even copies the same beat of Groot freezing when Drax looks at him), but for the most part, the scene works as a joyous reintroduction.

Baby Groot gets several more big scenes after that, but they’re spaced out, and his cuteness is used to fuel legitimately funny beats, rather than coming across as something that was created by a panel to sell toys.

Part of what stops Baby Groot from being too obviously saccharine is that, in many of his scenes, he’s not shoving his adorableness at you. No, Groot’s being abused. Director James Gunn wasn’t kidding when he said that the Guardians were shitty parents, and in many scenes, audiences feel bad for Groot rather than crumbling under an high-handed, twee onslaught. He’s not coming at you — you want to protect him, and that makes a big difference.

Baby Groot is, for sure, a highlight of Vol. 2, because the filmmakers knew when to deploy him and when to let other characters get the spotlight. Characters like, oh, Drax (played by Dave Bautista) might be the MVP of the whole gosh-darn movie. Neither Groot nor Drax have the range to be primary protagonists, at least in the characters’ current forms. But, when they’re allowed to just pop in as needed to deliver gut-bursting moments and then let the plot move along, they soar, rather than trying to make it all about themselves.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5.

Photos via Marvel