The Real Reason It’s Taken So Long to Get a Dancing Baby Groot Toy

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Photo: Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy had barely been out for one full weekend before the enterprising entrepreneurs of the internet started crafting homemade tributes to Dancing Baby Groot, the mid-credits iteration of our talking-tree hero that became far and away the movie’s biggest breakout star. It’s a testament to how much people loved Guardians that they’d rush to make their own Baby Groots, but it’s not like they’ve had another choice: Marvel won’t put out an official Dancing Baby Groot toy until this Christmas, the rare case of a toy-spawning comic-book company leaving money on the table. Did the studio fail to foresee just how big a hit the “I Want You Back”–grooving baby alien would become?

Quite the contrary, Guardians director James Gunn told Vulture today. “While we were still shooting the movie, I brought up putting Dancing Baby Groot out as a toy,” he said. “The reason it didn’t happen is because you have some control in the film industry over secrets getting out there, but the people you don’t have much control over are the toy people, unfortunately. Those toy designs get out, always! And people definitely would have gotten ahold of the Baby Groot if we had started manufacturing it in time for it to come out after the movie, so that was the biggest reason we didn’t push on that particular element.”

Still, there’s plenty of Dancing Baby Groot to go around on the new Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray, coming out December 9: A making-of feature on the little guy was just one of the cute bonuses that Gunn touted today at a screening on the Walt Disney lot in Los Angeles. You’ll also find a host of deleted scenes on the home video release — including a priceless comic bit where John C. Reilly's Rhomann Dey suffers a wardrobe malfunction — although one sequence Gunn loved most is still missing in action: a long montage set to ELO’s “Livin’ Thing,” featuring lots more Groot and the unclothed bodies of Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, which Gunn had previously cited as a sure-shot to make the Blu-ray.

“I didn’t find out until today,” he said glumly. “I know it was a music-rights issue. I don’t know what happened. I thought we were gonna put another song on there instead, but it didn’t happen, so hopefully we’ll be able to see it at some point because it’s my favorite thing that was cut.”

And while you’ll see plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of Gunn acting out certain character beats for the animators, the director’s Baby Groot wiggle isn’t among those moments, though his crew used Gunn’s own shimmy as a guide. “I don’t know if it’s self-preservation or what,” Gunn said about the omission, before calling out to a nearby staffer: “What happened to my dancing footage?”

Replied the Marvel underling as he barely looked up from his smartphone, “It’s at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.”