The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Flexes Marvel’s Potential

If the DCU’s new “Kevin Feige” approaches his new role as co-CEO with as much heart, joy, and originality as he does with his The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special—at the precise moment in which Marvel appears to be losing some steam—then Hollywood might have a new champion of the comic book movie. MCU director turned DC creative executive James Gunn’s Guardian of the Galaxy movies juggle themes and tones better than most other entries in the MCU’s catalog—an almost necessary skill for any worthwhile Christmas movie. From How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to Jingle All the Way, to be a Christmas movie is to be both joyous and difficult, life-giving and reflective of what life has taken. The 44-minute direct-to-streaming Holiday Special does just that.

As the Earth date of Christmas approaches, Kraglin (Sean Gunn) reminisces on a childhood memory of Yondu (Michael Rooker) ruining Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his attempt to replicate the holiday on a spaceship. Convinced from Kraglin’s story that Yondu ruined Christmas for Peter, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) decide to bring an Earth to Knowhere (the planet where the Guardians live)… by kidnapping Kevin Bacon (um, played by Kevin Bacon). 

Gunn’s third GOTG film is really as excellent or dreadful as that sounds. If fish-out-of-water humor and Kevin Bacon jokes aren’t your thing, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, it’s certain to be 44 minutes well spent. From the unexpected animated bookends to the side character showcase to the pure sacrificial gist, the Special provides a breath of fresh air from the duller superhero movies of 2022: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessBlack AdamBlack Panther: Wakanda Foreveretc…

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