James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films feature one of the most beloved teams in the MCU. When it was announced that Gunn was returning to direct the third installment of the franchise, I thought it would just be that final film and it would be a wait until May 5, 2023, to see our favorite team again. However, our rag-tag team of A-holes is back ahead of Vol. 3, with The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special which arrived on Disney+ today.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is undoubtedly the most unexpected production that Kevin Feige announced in 2020. As the second title under the new Marvel Studios Special Presentation banner, the first being Werewolf By Night (check out Vin’s review), The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is simple in structure but lends itself perfectly to this new format.
[Warning: Spoilers from The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special are below!]
Christmas spirit is already here
Christmas-focused productions are certainly an important part of the winter season when it’s freezing, snow is falling down outside your window, and people are gathering together to share in the holiday cheer. The same is true of this production. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special begins with a young Peter Quill (Luke Klein) and Kraglin (Sean Gunn) decorating a Christmas tree. Yondu (Michale Rooker) ridicules the two as well as destroys the tree because he hates Christmas, even though he doesn’t know what it is. We know how fond of Peter he was, so it’s safe to assume that he wanted to remain a cold-blooded boss at this point.
After this flashback, we cut to our Guardians, who have unexpectedly bought Knowhere from the very much alive The Collector (Benicio del Toro), but it’s unclear how it went down. Joining Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Kraglin, Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Groot (Vin Diesel) in their new base of operation, is Cosmo the space dog (voiced by Maria Bakalova).
Peter is still depressed and unable to find happiness, but his team is ready to help. Planning to find the perfect gift for Peter, Mantis reveals she’s his sister, a secret mentioned in a deleted scene from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. Mantis feels that she is responsible for bringing him happiness and helping him believe in Christmas again.
She and Drax travel to Earth to find the one present that will bring Peter out of his depression, the legendary Kevin Bacon, whose first appearance in the MCU is truly iconic. Our duo makes their way through the craziness of the holiday season in Los Angeles which consists of partying in a club, taking pictures with people who think they’re people in costumes, and even making money. They finally arrive at Kevin Bacon’s beautifully decorated home and do exactly what we thought they would do – try to kidnap him.
Of course, Bacon runs away from them, but thanks to some alien powers Drax and Mantis run after him in a hilarious bunny-hopping scene. Most unexpected is Drax’s fight with the police, which left them more wounded than Drax, as he is bulletproof to Earth’s weapons.
Mantis defeated the police more peacefully, using her empathic powers and putting them to sleep. After this minor battle, it’s time for Kevin Bacon to go to Knowhere, but first Mantis has to make him less afraid of them and more heroic. The funniest thing is that when Mantis and Drax discover that he’s actually an actor and not a hero who, according to Peter’s story, saved the world by dancing like in Footloose, they become very disgusted with him.
Mantis and Drax’s idea and journey for Peter’s gift was very noble, and although the execution of the plan wasn’t good, the end result was. Peter unwraps Kevin Bacon, and his reaction is rather human, screaming and panicking over what our duo has done. After making sure Kevin Bacon’s mind is back to normal, Kraglin goes to send him home, but the sorrowful story he tells Kevin Bacon makes the star stay and party with the Guardians and the fellow residents of Knowhere. We see the Guardians giving gifts to each other, and Kevin Bacon says he will definitely see them at Easter.
The special ends with another flashback, with Yondu unwrapping his gift from Peter and Star-Lord getting his famous weapon. The run time for this special presentation is about 40 minutes and it’s one of the most wholesome and warm productions from Marvel Studios and James Gunn.
The idea of Christmas stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special isn’t the first Marvel production set during the holiday time, as we’ve previously had Iron Man 3, Hawkeye, and the end Spider-Man: No Way Home. I’m very happy that Kevin Feige is finally embracing a true holiday-themed MCU project, especially since James Gunn reportedly wrote the script in three days.
Compared to other famous productions outside the superhero genre, this special presentation works really well, especially when watched with the family. I can picture many families turning this on, drinking hot cocoa while it’s snowing outside. We need more productions that work both in and out of the holiday season.
I loved the special effects in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which looked practical, but a lot of them were VFX. It’s always a good sign when the VFX looks real. And of course, in this special, we can sense a lot of James Gunn’s style with his great taste in music, Easter eggs to his previous films, and cameos from other popular actors and bands like the Old 97’s, Kyra Sedgwick, Mark Hamill, Don McLeod, Flula Borg, and more that were teased throughout.
My rating for this film:
★★★★ / ♥♥♥♥
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming on Disney+. Do you plan to check it out? Have you already seen it? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or Discord. And if you already need some more Guardians in your life, check out our report on some pictures from The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which shows a mysterious language!