The Holiday period is fast approaching, which can only mean one thing for Marvel fans: it’s time for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Marvel is not one to miss an opportunity to expand its ever-growing universe of superhero stories, and we all know James Gunn loves playing in this sandbox! So get ready as Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, Drax, and Mantis bring Christmas cheer in the only way they know how—with utter chaos and a smile on their face.
The special, written and directed by James Gunn, initially takes place on Nowhere following the events of Thor: Love and Thunder. If you’ve not seen the film, don’t worry, as there’s very little connective tissue from one to the next. In fact, there’s very little connective tissue to the MCU as a whole and instead, it serves as a self-contained one-shot narrative in which the Guardians want to bring some Christmas magic to Peter to be able to give back to the man who gave them so much. As such, Mantis and Drax return to Earth to acquire the one man that can save Christmas, Kevin Bacon. The special features the talents of Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, and yes, Kevin Bacon himself.
The Guardians special runs around 42 minutes and has incredibly low stakes, so if you’re heading into this expecting Kang the Conqueror or something that’s going to blow your socks off, maybe check your expectations before pressing play. This is not to diminish the quality of the story, because what Gunn delivers is a highly entertaining, hilarious narrative that adds another level of depth to these characters and above all, gives us an excuse to hang out with this crew for a short while as we witness the hijinx they cause.
The special primarily focuses on Mantis and Drax as they sojourn to Terra/Earth in search of the legendary man who saved a town with his dancing skills. The story is just so entertaining, and funny to boot. Klementieff and Bautista steal every scene they’re in, as their playful duet continues to yield some fantastic comedic results. Klementieff in particular really dialed up her physical comedy and the delivery of some of her lines far beyond what we’ve seen from her in the past. It lands with such gusto here. It’s all in the way she approaches Mantis’ interpretation of what command looks like and how she over-exaggerates the action paired with her over-the-top facial expressions. Yet, she has these moments where she slips from the task and lets loose and it’s just ridiculously hard not to smile. Bautista at this point in the game understands his role as Drax inside and out, so if you’re a fan of his past performances as the destroyer, you will not be let down.
Similarly, if you’ve been a fan of what James Gunn has brought up until this point, you can fully expect to head into this special with one element being more present than most, which is the musical aspect. Once again, he kills it, finding a unique library of songs to pair with this story that highlights the tone all the way through. One particular song he uses that really stuck out for me was Fairytale of New York by the Pogues. A famously depressing, yet catchy song and one that for me is the best Christmas song around. The special actually opens and closes with the same tune, which I loved for its capturing the quintessence of this group of intergalactic misfits who stumble through their assignments and make a mess of the situation more often than not. Yet, when push comes to shove, they’re all in it together. For better or worse they find a way to pull together.
Leaning into these special feature presentations is a very interesting trend and one I hope that we see more of in the future. Whether it’s used to highlight existing characters or to introduce newer ones, the special feature space allows for a very specific story to be told without the need for it being a spectacled event in the cinema, or a weekly drawn-out episodic story.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is an absurdly comical take on a Christmas special in which we get to officially welcome Kevin Bacon to the MCU. I love how this self-contained story has a specific message to deliver and doesn’t attempt to do literally anything else. The stakes are low, the music is brilliant, and the jokes and comedy are flowing. Sit back and let the Guardians hype you up for the holiday season.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be available Friday, November 25th, exclusively on Disney+.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
- Rating - 7.5/107.5/10
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is an absurdly comical take on a Christmas special in which we get to officially welcome Kevin Bacon to the MCU.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.