With Marvel Studios prepping for Doctor Strange to hit later this year, and even with all the excitement surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch‘s MCU debut as the Sorcerer Supreme, it is hard not to look ahead to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out early next year. Following in the success of the first installment, this property is no longer a risk for Marvel, but now one of their most anticipated films in Phase 3. This is in large part thanks to the vision that James Gunn had with the first and making the intergalactic adventure a unique addition to not only the MCU, but to the history of film.

It made audiences care for a group of outlaws that featured a walking, talking, and shooting raccoon and a giant, walking tree. It was not an easy sell, but now people can’t wait for the sequel to arrive. This time around however, there will be one big change. Groot will no longer be a towering and imposing figure, but instead he will stay as the adorable and lovable Baby Groot for the duration of the film. In speaking to Collider after the Hall H panel, Gunn was asked about this decision and stated that, instead of this being a marketing ploy, it helped the story flow better.

It was a big thing for me. It was like, I was writing the treatment of the script, I already knew who Quill’s father was at the time, and to be completely honest I’ve never said this to anybody, I was gonna make Groot, you know, I was gonna make him a grow Groot, and it just didn’t seem right! It didn’t seem right! I thought, well wait a second Baby Groot offers a whole new way of looking at the movie and a new insight and a new way to go into it. It’s about a family and how they’re all around this younger character is gonna make a big difference and suddenly everything opened up for me. Baby Groot is an extremely important character in the movie, but it’s not like it’s his story, but for some reason it opened up everything for me and made the whole movie flow so much more smoothly.

Baby Groot is not the only change that will happen to the Guardians roster. Back in January, word got out that Yondu, Nebula, and newcomer Mantis would join the team and even without knowing much of anything about the sequel, an expanded roster with these additions made a lot of sense. Then when the first concept art for the movie had them side by side with the original crew, it appeared that report had been confirmed. Gunn made sure there are no doubts on where Yondu stands, making him a new member of the Guardians and giving him a close relationship with Rocket.

Yeah, Yondu is now one of the Guardians. He becomes one of the Guardians basically. He has a very close relationship with Rocket that is very transformative for both of them. They’re actually very similar characters and yeah, that’s a big center of the story is Peter Quill has two fathers. He has this abusive jerk of a father, who he still doesn’t like, which is Yondu and then he is this biological father, which is Ego the Living Planet, which is a totally different situation and he got to balance those two relationships. At the heart of it, this is a melodrama that could be about a kid that was raised in New York City that has an adopted father and a sort of upper East side father.

As for Rocket, making the change to Baby Groot would clearly alter the relationship as it was initially shown in Guardians of the Galaxy. Even though Rocket was portrayed as the big brother, Groot was there to provide the muscle. With Groot now being smaller than ever, it is up to Rocket to protect him. Luckily for us and Groot, this comes naturally according to Gunn.

Rocket didn’t even know any sort of affection what so ever, or showed it, or felt it. Started to feel a little of it from Groot throughout the last movie and now he’s responsible for taking care of this baby and that’s one of the things that he has to do in it. It actually comes pretty easily to him. It’s the other characters that he has a difficult time with.

All of this sounds great for the characters involved, but how is this going for Gunn? He has been working hard on the follow up for the last two years and has another year of work editing and promoting the film ahead. Currently, he spends his days in the editing room working on the final cut of the film and he is at a scary point right now. Not because things are terrible, but because things are going better than he ever could have imagined.

My biggest fear right now is that it’s flowing so well that I’m not used to this. I’m not used to it going so well. In the editing room, the movie is exactly what I envisioned from the beginning and as I sat down to do something, I did it, and that’s what this movie is. Geez, it’s been amazing.

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

Source: Collider.