Everything We Know So Far

ytsfreeSeptember 17, 2022

It has been five years since we last saw a standalone Guardians of the Galaxy film when Vol. 2 was released in 2017. Sure, we’ve had quite a few appearances of the Guardians since then in two Avengers movies and most recently in Thor: Love and Thunder, but fans are hankering for more.


They’ll have to wait until May 5, 2023, to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on the big screen for that, but Marvel and Disney have a wait to satiate those fan appetites this winter (other than the recently released shorts series, I Am Groot). Enter, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special!

For pop culture fans, the name Holiday Special brings to mind the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, which debuted in 1978 and was panned by critics and fans alike. It now holds a sort of reverence in pop culture history as something so bad it’s good. And this impact was not lost on Guardians writer and director James Gunn, who once tweeted that he loved the special as a kid.

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So, whether intentional or not (we’ll wait and see), it’s safe to assume there may be some influence from the galaxy far, far, away on our Guardians.


The Holiday Special Story

If Gunn was truly inspired by the Star Wars Holiday Special, we can guess that the Guardians might take a similar trip to the homeworld of their non-English speaking teammate Groot. If so, the journey to Groot’s homeworld of Planet X would echo that of Chewbacca, who returned to Kashyyyk, as the plot for the Star Wars Holiday Special.

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Of course, that’s complete speculation. In fact, we know next to nothing about the holiday special as Marvel and Gunn have kept spoilers in check, and the plot is still a surprise. What we do know is how excited Gunn is. In an interview with the Radio Times, the filmmaker stated:

“The Holiday Special is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s totally ridiculous, and every day we can’t believe that we’re making it. We all completely love it. It is unlike anything that anyone’s ever seen before. I can’t wait for people to see it. And it’s out pretty soon. You know, it’s out this Christmas. It’s not like people have to wait that long.”

This comes after he said he was jealous of the love people had for the script. On Twitter, Gunn teased that the special is a “standalone story” but that it will contain some facts “about what the Guardians have been up to for all these years.”

Speculation suggests we’ll get glimpses, or full sequences, of timeframes between the movies, including those that lead into Avengers: Infinity War. Gunn also tweeted that the story takes place after the events of Thor: Love and Thunder and Vol. 3.

The Holiday Special Cast

Again, much like the plot, we don’t know a lot. According to Gunn, the entire team of the Guardians will not all appear in the special. Gamora is the likely candidate not to appear (despite being in the cast list on IMDb), just like she was missing in Thor: Love and Thunder. This tracks, as her journey at the end of Avengers: Endgame was not the same as the Guardians and will probably be a pivotal plot element in Vol. 3 for Peter Quill as he searches for her.

Otherwise, we assume we’ll see Quill, Groot, Rocket, Drax, Mantis, Nebula, and Kraglin. The canonical appearance of Santa Claus is likely, and if so, could be a hint of another mutant joining the MCU (Kamala Khan being the first known).

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Rumors of cameos and appearances of others include Kingo from The Eternals and the one and only Kevin Bacon.

Release Date

While Marvel has not announced a release date, the special will debut later this year, likely in December, for the holiday season. We do not expect the runtime to be as long as the Star Wars Holiday Special, which was a torturous 120 minutes. Early guesses peg the special around a 40-minute runtime.

It seems as if the special and Vol. 3 will be Gunn’s last contributions to the MCU as he has future commitments to Warner Bros. and their future DC Extended Universe building. If it truly is the end of Gunn’s work in the MCU, his mark will be felt for a long time. The filmmaker successfully introduced a more playful tone to the MCU. His dialogue, colorful palette, and playful characterizations have translated to others in the franchise (Thor, Spider-Man, Wong, She-Hulk), and we can expect that tone to continue.

The Guardians of the Galaxy caught everyone by surprise, and fans of the MCU continue to be delighted with the story and characters who expanded stories into the cosmos. We won’t have to wait much longer to see what the continued shenanigans the Guardians bring, this time with a holiday theme.

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