It’s hard to believe now, but before Guardians of the Galaxy hit movie theaters back in 2014, fans were skeptical of a movie with a gun-toting raccoon and a walking tree that only had the capability to say the words “I am Groot”, and yet, when the movie premiered? Marvel seemed to have done the impossible. They made us care about these characters, especially Groot. So with the second film having wrapped production today, it’s not too surprising to hear from the folks at Variety that we can expect to see a huge push for the character when merchandise begins hitting the shelves for the highly anticipated sequel. In fact, Marvel will begin premiering products for the sequel for retailers this Monday.

The moves come in the wake of the first film grossing $770 million at the worldwide box office in 2014. Marvel will give retailers a first look at the new line on Monday at Licensing Expo 2016 in Las Vegas, with categories including toys, games, books, apparel and accessories.

Groot, a key component to the first film’s appeal, is central to the new campaign. The “Dancing Groot” bobble-head is Funko’s best-seller of all time in its Pop! line. Hasbro, the lead toy partner, is releasing a range of action figures and roleplay products based on the new film while Lego adds to its lineup with new construction sets.

More importantly, along with a giant push for Groot, it appears that Marvel and Disney have learned from their failure to push Gamora (and Nebula) during the first film, and we may actually see that problem corrected with this new merchandise line. While discussing what they have planned for the sequel’s line, Paul Gitter, senior VP of licensing for Marvel at Disney Consumer Products, mentioned how they are aiming to include kids, as well as male and female fans when it comes to the merchandise line for the sequel. Of course, this doesn’t confirm the inclusion of Gamora in more items, but it’s hard not to be hopeful and attempt to read between the lines here.

“As affinity and awareness for the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ franchise and its characters continues to grow by leaps and bounds, we are building out a much larger merchandising program to meet the increasing demand from fans,” he said.

“It will be a much broader line [than 2014] expanding beyond collectors to include kids and male/female fans of the film,” Gitter said. “Also, as it is now a proven franchise with appealing characters, licensees will invest more in design and innovation. Finally, there will be a much stronger focus on Groot, who proved to be the breakout character from the first film.”

Updated to add that director James Gunn has confirmed he’s been working to make sure there will be more of a presence from the female characters this time around.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is scheduled to hit theaters May 5, 2017.

Source: Variety.