Marvel continues its short-form storytelling with the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Following in the footsteps of Star Wars, these beloved Marvel characters join together for a holiday romp. The holiday celebrations from a Galaxy far far away may be remembered as corny but enjoyable. What makes the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special work is that it never takes itself too seriously. It knows exactly what it is.
As someone who has never been a particular fan of the Guardians, I confess to going into the Holiday Special with more than a little bit of trepidation. This team features the weakest Hollywood Chris after all. However, it was nice to see the Guardians come together for a penultimate adventure before their story comes to a close. It’s also probably fair to say that the Guardians were always going to be able to create a unique brand of holiday chaos perfect for a Marvel holiday special.
The use of animation is well-placed throughout. The MCU’s foray into animation for its series a la What If…? has not always been positively by fans. It’s too bad that more fans aren’t open to integrating this kind of animation into live action projects. At best, the animation can provide more flexibility for the story itself, and can add components that live action can’t accommodate. Of course, this site will always stand with animators and all artists and will always advocate for these workers to be appropriately compensated.
The story itself is a simple one. Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) simply want to give Peter (Chris Pratt) an Earthen Christmas to make up for his traumatic past. In a world where Christmas overtakes absolutely everything this time of year, it’s kind of nice to see people who have never been exposed to it try to distill what Christmas is from hearsay. It’s almost utopian, seeing a universe (or a part of it) in which Christmas isn’t given such extraordinary cultural power. In a way, this paves the way for the festivities to actually be fun without so much pressure attached to them.
The use of Kevin Bacon is brilliant. Many celebrity cameos, especially in massive franchises like the MCU, fall flat. These appearances often come across as lazy, since fans are expected to simply cheer such a cameo with no further context. Not so with the great Kevin Bacon here. It’s been established that Peter’s a big fan. It’s not so much of a stretch to think his friends would want to acquire Bacon as a present for him. Throw in some dad-worthy guitar riffs and some true family man content and you have a winning celebrity cameo.
This holiday special is also proof that Marvel can do a lot with short-form storytelling. Much like Werewolf by Night, the holiday special is able to tell its story in a tight timeframe, without wasting time on gratuitous plot lines. Instead, fans are given a laser focus on a few characters. We are really able to appreciate the story in a deeper way without distraction.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special succeeds in so many ways. These characters are incredibly popular within the MCU. Seeing them in all their holiday glory is both hilarious and heartwarming. These characters have always been about exploring the meaning of family. There’s hardly a better time of year to spotlight this dysfunctional yet lovable crew.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is available to stream on Disney+.