“I am Groot!”
If Vin Diesel’s not-so-subtle hint today on Facebook is indeed accurate, then it looks like the “Fast and Furious” star could be providing the voice for one of the strangest Marvel characters to make the jump to the big screen so far.
I think it’s pretty clear that I’ve been enthusiastic about James Gunn’s film version of “Guardians Of The Galaxy,” and I particularly dig the idea that they’re playing the film as comedy as much as action or science-fiction. I’ve seen that Comic-Con footage twice now, and I am just fascinated by the entire production. Gunn is starting to look like an inspired choice for the project, and his casting seems to me to be dead on. I’m not sure Chris Pratt would have been at the top of any list for any Marvel movie for me, but now that I’ve seen him as Star Lord, I think it’s a natural fit. Zoe Saldana is rocking the green, as is Dave Bautista, and I think I could watch a whole movie of John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz just discussing various alien prisoners.
The two characters who have to work if the film is going to work as a whole, though, are Groot and Rocket Raccoon. I’ve been hearing for a while now that they are looking at giant movie stars for the voice of Rocket, and that Marvel has had conversations with the very top of the A-list about that possibility. I have no idea who they’ll end up with, but my guess is it’s going to be a movie star on par with a Bruce Willis or a Johnny Depp or a Tom Cruise. There is something really wonderful and odd about having the biggest name in your film play a small, ill-tempered animal, and I look forward to seeing people flip out whenever the name is finally announced.
Today, though, it looks like Vin Diesel is strongly suggesting, via a Facebook update, that he will be providing the voice for Groot, a large tree-creature. The best-known version of the character only says one phrase, no matter what is said to him, and I have trouble believing that Marvel’s going to pay Diesel to just record forty variations on the phrase “I am Groot!” The character was fully articulate in some of his earlier incarnations, and I hope they give him room to actually become a character in the film.
It does seem strange that they wouldn’t announce this at the D23 Expo yesterday if the deal is done, since that would have been a new bit of news and would have launched “Guardians” to the top of the pile in terms of news stories out of the live-action presentation. Maybe they’re waiting to announce him at the same time that they announce Rocket. Maybe Vin is more confident that negotiations will work out than Marvel is. Maybe this is a grass-roots campaign by Vin to pin down a job he wants. But whatever the case, it’s a fascinating choice, and I’d be far more interested in this than in Vin playing Thanos or another make-up heavy bad guy. Vin’s voice is so distinct, and so striking that I’m surprised he hasn’t done a ton more animation work than he has. “Iron Giant” is lovely, but it can’t be the only thing he’s capable of playing in animation.
As of publication, Marvel has not responded to requests for clarification on the issue, and Vin has been mum since posting the picture.
“Guardians Of The Galaxy” arrives in our solar system August 1, 2014.