James Gunn’s first live-action project after his return to Marvel Studios and his crowning as the King of DC is a Holiday Special starring Mantis and Drax in their quest to save Christmas.
In a sea of Disney+ shows and films, it’s important to be a special. The special format itself was launched with the arrival of Werewolf By Night, instantly gaining praise across the board from fans and critics alike. This special like Michael Giacchino’s Werewolf By Night is a detour from the MCU, not staying with the classical MCU tone, but instead embracing its own genre-specific tone. While the previous one was a classic 60s Monster film, The Guardians Special is a classic Christmas special filled with great songs, Christmas cheer, emotions, and humor to make your heart feel warm.
The special starts like all classic Christmas specials do with some animation to set up the story, as shown in the trailers something ruins Christmas for Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill. Mantis feels bad about this and recruits Drax on a duo adventure off to Los Angeles to give Peter a gift of a lifetime in the form of his childhood hero Kevin Bacon, who inspired him in his dance-off to save the universe in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol.1. The special gives us a compelling setup and builds up the family dynamic that we have known to love with the Guardians. It’s what made the Guardians special in the first place, they only have each other to care for. mantis cares for peter and feels heartbroken that peter can’t relive his childhood traditions, especially after a surprising revelation early on in the special which makes her feel guilty. A better name for the special would be “Mantis and Drax’s Christmas Adventure” since the rest of the Guardians are barely involved. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows the story to be more focused and organized, however, it does leave one wondering how much more fun we could have had if Groot and Rocket were more involved than just one scene.
Another great aspect of this special is that even though it’s separated from anything in the greater MCU, it still moves the MCU narrative forward with some great worldbuilding which surprisingly even full seasons of previous Disney Plus shows have failed to do. We get to see what The Guardians have been up to since dropping off Thor in Thor: Love And Thunder. Gamora is still nowhere to be seen, the Guardians have found themselves a new pastime in Knowhere, and Groot has grown trunk and root.
Pom Klementieff’s Mantis is the MVP of this film, her comedic timing is perfect, and she genuinely seems heartbroken and is given all the time to shine. Dave Bautista is as lovable/annoying as always, giving us his classic Drax. The headline character, however, is Kevin Bacon who gets a perfect MCU introduction and is an integral part of the special instead of just acting as a plot device or cameo. He has his own motivations, and his own action set pieces and is given all the time he needs. Along with this, we get a great native Knowherian band who like all specials deliver the opening and final music performances. The final music performance sees Kevin Bacon join them in an amazing and heartwarming performance.
This special is all you need to get back into the Christmas Spirit in spectacular and exciting fashion.
The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special hits Disney Plus Tomorrow on November 25!
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