The Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special (2022)
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Kevin Bacon, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Maria Bakalova, Michael Rooker
The Guardians of the Galaxy. What a bunch of festive… This latest Marvel Studios Special Presentation, streaming now on Disney+, takes the galaxy’s most unlikely team of superheroes and gives them a festive spin. This is The Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special (2022).
The 40 minute special opens with a fun animated segment, recounting a story from a Christmas past. A young Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt as an adult) is celebrating Christmas with Kraglin (Sean Gunn), when Yondu (Michael Rooker) interrupts. He doesn’t see the value in gifts; the Ravager way is to take. It ruins the festive season.
In present day, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) are talking about it, on Knowhere — the floating Celestial head-come-space-station which the Guardians have apparently purchased off the Collector. It sparks an idea, for them to give Starlord a Christmas surprise and bring him one of his favourite things — the famed Earth hero, Kevin Bacon (played by himself).
For most of the run-time, it becomes a fun two-handed romp as we see the unlikely pair make a trip to Starlord’s home planet. Out of all the Guardians, Mantis and Drax are perhaps the most oblivious to Earth culture and customs. It makes for a series of fun vignettes, as they search Los Angeles to find Bacon and stumble into everything from a festive party to fighting costumed characters on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It has all the fun, wit and charm of the Guardians’ usual appearances, with James Gunn’s signature flair for comedy and the unique dynamic of this unlikely superhero team lending itself well to a festive special. He fully embraces the tropes of that particular cultural phenomenon too; there’s a singalong, courtesy of The Old ’97s, essentially a garage band on Knowhere.
Kevin Bacon throws himself into… well, playing himself, and embraces the absurdity. And things lead to a heartwarming finale, complete with festive lighting and a message about family and friendship.
Of course, a big part of the appeal of these MCU-expanding specials is spotting new additions to the canon. And perhaps the most joyous example is Cosmo (Maria Bakalova), last seen in the post-credits of the first Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) but given an expanded role here. The telekinetic labrador has a sparky exchange with Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, and is the newest member of the Guardians team.
Director James Gunn and the rest of the Guardians cast, especially Klementieff and Bautista, have a ball bringing some festive charm to the galaxy – and the MCU’s – most unlikely band of heroes.