To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a made-for-TV Christmas special based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name. Written and directed by James Gunn (Super) the special is produced by Kevin Feige for the streaming service Disney+. Featuring Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, and Kevin Bacon. It is the second Marvel Studios Special Presentation set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films and television series of the franchise. The story follows Mantis and Drax as they search for a Christmas present on Earth for their leader Peter Quill.
In an animated opening, a young Peter Quill (Luke Klein) is decorating a small Christmas tree with Kraglin (Sean Gunn) aboard the Eclector. When Yondu (Michael Rooker) enters and asks what’s going on, Peter tells him about the holiday. Yondu dislikes the idea of giving away gifts, feeling it’s against the Ravager code, and destroys the tree strongly stating his distaste for Christmas before leaving. In the present day, it’s revealed that Kraglin is telling this story to Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Revealing to them that it’s almost Christmastime on Earth. After learning about Peter’s affinity for the Terran holiday, Mantis and Drax head to Peter’s home planet to get him the best Christmas present ever. The legendary hero who saved an entire town by dancing, Kevin Bacon.
With the lukewarm fan reception to Phase Four, it’s really good that Marvel Studios end the slate on a high note. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a really fun time and proves that Marvel Studios should tell more holiday-themed stories. So far the only Christmastime features in the MCU are Iron Man 3 and Hawkeye. (Spider-Man: No Way Home ends around Christmas, but I don’t count that.) Christmas shouldn’t even be the only holiday they stick to as there are a plethora of holidays celebrated worldwide.
While the entire Guardians team is present throughout the special sans Gamora, the story revolves around Mantis and Drax – mostly Mantis. As anyone could have guessed, it is finally made clear that Mantis is the offspring of Ego and therefore Peter Quill’s half-sister! She has been keeping this secret from him for years and is thinking about finally telling him. Drax is the only person who knows her secret therefore she takes him along on the adventure to bring Kevin Bacon to Peter on Knowhere.
While Dave Bautista doesn’t offer anything new with Drax, aside from the fact that his skin is bulletproof, Pom Klementieff shows viewers an entirely new side of Mantis. The character has come into her own and displays more personality than her last three film appearances combined. She parties, drinks, dances, and even gets irritated when Drax pesters her about eating all the Zargnuts. (Seriously she should tell people about that.) Normally during combat situations, we see Mantis using her empathetic powers to put opponents to sleep. During this special, we get to see Mantis kick some ass – before putting them to sleep! She is a great fighter and is very skilled at incapacitating adversaries without killing them. Although we only see her fighting against humans it’s still pretty cool to witness. We also see that Mantis can, in fact, use her empathetic powers to persuade people to do her bidding. Leaving them under her control until says otherwise.
Of course, the addition of Kevin Bacon is wonderful. The sequence of him running away from Mantis and Drax is one of the most hilarious moments in Phase Four. This isn’t the first time celebrities have played fictionalized versions of themselves in the MCU. To name a few, Elon Musk and DJ AM appeared in Iron Man 2, Stan Lee appeared (as himself) in Captain Marvel, and Megan Thee Stallion appeared in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is another major win for the MCU. The special feels like a Hallmark Christmas movie in all the best ways. The comedy isn’t overdone and the heartfelt story moves these characters forward deepening their relationship before their third feature film. I give The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special a Good 4.5/5. Can’t wait to see these characters return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and find out what Special Presentations Marvel plans to release next Year! Rocket does tease another special in the post-credits scene.
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