As soon as rumors that Vin Diesel was meeting with Marvel started flying around, all sorts of theories about which of their movies he was going to be in and which character they were looking at him to play started getting thrown around as well. After a few weeks or so of wading through everybody’s brainstorms and photoshop mock-ups, it finally became pretty clear that the movie Diesel was going to be joining was James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and the character he was going to be playing was the giant, tree-like member of the team, Groot.
This revelation dashed hopes held by some Diesel fans that he would be playing a meatier part, like maybe the big nasty villain the Avengers are eventually going to face, Thanos, or even a red-faced android who hasn’t been mentioned as being a part of Marvel’s movie plans yet, the Vision. Were they really going after a star as big as Diesel just to voice a CG character who’s usually only able to say the words, “I am Groot?” A new interview Diesel did with Heat Vision not only confirms that Groot is indeed the role that he’s been talking to Marvel about, but also offers up something of an explanation for these questions surrounding the casting.
First of all, Diesel reveals that the thing that initially got him into talks with Marvel wasn’t a role in Guardians of the Galaxy at all. Instead, the actor claims, “What we were initially talking about was a fresh IP [intellectual property], and that was the focus of our conversation, which was a fresh IP that would come out in 2016 or 2017 and potentially launch the third phase.”
So, if Diesel was originally being thought of for a property that we haven’t heard about yet, what eventually led to him being added to Guardians of the Galaxy instead? He goes on to explain, “When we went to Comic-Con we realized people wanted something a little bit more immediate, and with my schedule it was almost impossible to imagine I could do anything immediate. I guess after they watched Iron Giant, or whatever, they came up with this idea of taking the strangest Marvel character—or the strangest Marvel character that’s ever hit film—and thought what I could do with that with motion capture and with my voice. Now it’s just up to my reps to allow that to happen.”
This block of text, while finally confirming that Diesel is indeed being brought on board for Groot, raises about a million other questions that are likely going to plague Marvel fans for a while. If Diesel was being brought in to talk about a new movie property that we haven’t heard about yet, why in the heck would they scrap those plans just because of same vague sense that the Comic-Con fans wanted to see him in a Marvel movie sooner? And what was that other project going to be? Something just doesn’t smell right there.
And as far as Diesel’s portrayal of Groot goes, in one breath he says that he would be doing the voice of the character as well as some motion capture, and in the other he mentions that his representatives haven’t even opened up a hole in his schedule for him to do the work yet. It seems reasonable that a guy whose calendar is already full would only be able to come in for a brief session and record some dialogue, but less reasonable that he would be able to also do any motion capture for the character, especially since the film has been shooting for weeks now and one would imagine a process like that would already be underway.
One has to wonder what Gunn and company’s plan for bringing the strange character of Groot to life is. Perhaps they’ll just be doing some capturing of Diesel’s facial ticks while he records his dialogue, and then they’ll be putting that on top of a creature whose body is 100% animated? And what if Diesel isn’t able to come in and do the recording at all? Is there a backup plan in place for someone else to say the words, “I am Groot,” over and over again with different inflections? Sometimes it feels like we’ll never be able to stop fretting over the particulars of bald guys and plant creatures. Guardians of the Galaxy’s 2014 release date can’t come soon enough.