The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is full of fun! James Gunn does it again delivering humor, heart, and a killer soundtrack.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are back, and while it isn’t time for their next feature film just yet, they are part of a fun holiday special that still has some pretty big implications to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or at the very least, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. Marvel fans will rejoice as Phase 5 is officially starting and boy is it doing so in a great way. This holiday special is sure to get everyone in the Christmas mood while delivering lots of laughs, a killer soundtrack, tons of Easter eggs, and even a DCEU reference.
James Gunn’s time with Marvel (for now) might be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to go out with a bang. In true James Gunn fashion each and every one of the songs that is featured was clearly chosen for a purpose. Something he does so well is providing music that enhances the story, and this Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special is no different, even if it is only about forty minutes long.
The story mostly follows Mantis and Drax as they set off to Earth to kidnap Kevin Bacon in an effort to cheer up Peter Quill around the holidays. This is like a wish come true, as it is always great to watch Pom Klementieff (who plays Mantis) and Dave Bautista (who plays Drax) interact on screen. They take an already fun special and bring all the heart and humor to it. Ever since they were first brought together in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, it is apparent that they could have some hilarious adventure together. Lucky for fans, this special feature delivers exactly that.
Mantis seems to have been pushed aside in the past. This is all for the sake of the story and it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but now is her time to shine. Pairing her with Drax is a brilliant way to ensure laughter, as they both struggle to understand traditions and well, just about anything that isn’t spelled out for them.
The two come to Earth, get up to some crazy shenanigans, and then track down the legendary Kevin Bacon. While some of the plot is predictable, it is wildly entertaining. Gunn’s signature directing style shines through and it is easy to become lost in the adventure. The whole thing is brilliant, but the chase scenes surrounding Mr. Bacon, which are only interrupted for a few sprinkles of humor, are the best parts.
The Ravagers and the Guardians don’t know much about Christmas at all, which allows for a few silly moments as they learn to be added in. Mantis has a BIG secret that is revealed, and is something that is sure to cause a ripple effect through the MCU. Sure, this special could be skipped and we are certain you would understand Volume 3 when it comes out, but why would you push this to the side? It is only slightly over forty minutes and is a whole lot of fun, so don’t miss out.
Something else that James Gunn is known for is slipping in Easter eggs whenever he can. The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special certainly has its fill of them — and he even goes so far as to add a nod to the DC Extended Universe (which fans will eat up!). There are callbacks to previous films (a moment between Rocket and Nebula will have viewers cackling!) and even an Eternals mention that you will want to keep your eyes peeled for.
Amidst all the jolliness and fun, there is quite a bit of heart buried here too. This feels like the holiday specials of old. The ones in which families would gather up on the couch in front of and watch together as the holiday season started. There are messages about friendships and a few moments that might get people choked up (if you aren’t over Yondu’s passing yet, well, have a tissue or two handy).
All of the Guardians have time on screen, but the majority of the story focuses on Drax and Mantis, and then Peter Quill as he is the one they are trying to cheer up. We get great moments with everyone else, and start to get to know Cosmo (we cannot WAIT for more of her!), as best as we can in the shorter runtime. Groot has grown up a little bit more, and seems to be an older teen than when we last saw him. While he does look a little bit weird, and like he has been working out quite a bit, it is nice to see they aren’t ignoring his aging.
Knowing that Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is going to be the end of this team as we know it, now is the time to suck up all that we can of them, because they are going to be missed greatly.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is an absolute blast. It is the great way to kick off the holiday season, and Phase 5 of the MCU. James Gunn puts himself and his style all over this, which makes it fit in perfectly with the Guardians films. Mantis gets her time to shine, and she meshes well with Drax. Allowing these two to have their time on screen is appreciated.
The story itself is fun and Kevin Bacon is a welcome addition to the MCU. Him being a part of this special just makes sense. Is this going to be a necessary watch? No. But why would you devoid yourself of pure entertainment? Plus, there really is an important tie to the future, which we are certain will be addressed in Volume 3. Be sure to stick around for the end credit scene which is a whole lot of fun!
Rating: 5 out of 5
About The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
On a mission to make Christmas unforgettable for Quill, the Guardians head to Earth in search of the perfect present.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.