After eight years since it was teased in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Kevin Bacon is officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he proves to be the festival hero we all need. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special episode has Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) abducting Bacon (appearing as himself) from Earth and taking him to Knowhere as a Christmas gift.
Firstly, it’s brilliant how self-aware the short is about giving such importance to an Earthly event such as Christmas. There are even chucklesome hints about how Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who was abducted from Earth as a child, may not still know about Santa Claus’ little secret. As fans of the Guardians films might guess already, Bacon is taken there to cheer up a sullen Peter who is grieving the death of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). It’s been seven years since Gamora’s passing in the MCU timeline, but we still don’t know what happened to the 2014’s Gamora who came to the future during the events of Avengers: Endgame. And through a subtler Chris, we see a deepened sadness in Peter, but only the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which is set to release on May 5, 2023, will give a clearer picture of what happened between Peter and 2014’s Gamora.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Bacon
Runtime: 38 minutes
Storyline: Drax and Mantis abduct Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon from Earth to cheer up a grief-stricken Peter Quill
It’s remarkable how this special episode proves to be a great prologue for the third film, with just the right amount of callbacks, leads, and hints but enough to add to the hype for the upcoming film. Yes, this is just a short film which is more of a fun outing with Drax and Mantis — they get sloshed at a bar in Los Angeles, chase a popular Hollywood actor on the road, and use their superpowers in their own ignorant, goofy ways. Still, Gunn manages to make it into a feel-good Christmas film with complete character arcs. We get more glimpses into the relationship shared by Yondu and Peter in the earlier days, and Peter even finds a Christmas gift that can change the dynamics in the team moving forward.
This is also coming at the right time, considering the team won’t be the same after the third instalment, as revealed earlier by Gunn. It’s not just Peter, even Kevin Bacon gets a heartwarming moment. When Drax tells him about how Footloose (The 1984 film starring Bacon) indirectly saved the galaxy during the events of the first Guardians film, Bacon truly realises how much his art has touched people and the legacy that he holds in this beautiful field of art. Oh, if all that isn’t enough, Gunn has one final gift in his Santa sack. Following Eternals, we once again get a DC reference in a Marvel film, and with Gunn becoming the co-Chairman and co-CEO at DC Studios, a possible crossover between the two rivals seem less farfetched now.
It’s wonderful to see how Marvel is capitalising this short format to bring both standalone fanfare projects like Werewolf by Night, but also titles like What If…? and this special Guardians episode that despite having a lot to do with the larger narrative can be viewed as standalone pieces. The post-Blip MCU has been a mixed bag of sorts, and maybe that is good for reasons. The Blip itself has been lending to interesting narratives and character developments. For instance, while Wakanda Forever also continued to show how the Blip changed some characters like Nakia, Gunn manages to tell a cheery Christmas short that has the Holiday spirit and still manages to let the characters’ journeys be as organic as possible. There is certainly a lot to look forward to. And can one ever get enough of Groot?
‘Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar