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'Guardians of the Galaxy' director defends adding Baby Groot

The character, who stole the show in the new trailer, isn't just a ploy to sell more merchandise, James Gunn tells fans on Twitter.

Aw, Baby Groot, how could anybody see your sweet face as a naked marketing ploy?

Adding a cute little character was a favorite ploy of TV shows in the 1970s and 1980s -- think Cousin Oliver on "The Brady Bunch" or Raven-Symoné as Olivia on "The Cosby Show."

But James Gunn, director of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," says Baby Groot is no Cousin Oliver.

The adorable character stole the show in the movie's latest trailer with his lovely liquidy eyes and his affinity for the "death button." In a series of tweets sent Saturday, director Gunn defended and explained a little about the character.

When asked flat-out if Baby Groot was a naked attempt to sell more merchandise, Gunn wrote, "I'm sure some people think that, but for me, keeping him Baby Groot throughout the film was the creative change that opened the film up for me."

Gunn went on to say he wasn't at all sure the studio would allow him to keep the character, "because adult Groot was the most popular character from the first film and I didn't think they'd want to risk a good thing."

And when another fan asked why the switch in Groots, Gunn certainly seemed to have thought it out. "Because Groot was pretty evolved spiritually: Baby Groot has a lot to learn. & I like how he brought out new aspects of our other characters," he tweeted.

And don't just think this is adult Groot from the first film in a teeny body. Gunn told more than one curious fan that Baby Groot is indeed a baby, not just the adult version shrunken down.

That said, Baby Groot is already helping "Guardians" buzz, much more than Cousin Oliver ever helped the Bradys. Gunn wrote on Facebook on December 5, "With 81 million views in its first 24 hours, the 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' Teaser Trailer is the SECOND BIGGEST TEASER TRAILER EVER (after 'Beauty and the Beast'), and the biggest Marvel Studios Teaser ever! No kidding -- I'm, like, floored. Thank all of you so very much for watching it (more than once), and sharing it, and welcoming Baby Groot and (fellow new character) Mantis with open arms."

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is set to premiere May 5, 2017.