- The following article contains MAJOR spoilers from Marvel Studios‘ Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which dropped today on Disney+.
- James Gunn’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special has finally arrived; the one-off a concept he originally developed for ABC in the wake of the release of 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
It’s the holidays! Yes, now that the actual day has arrived, let’s start unwrapping the cinematic gifts placed beneath the tree for 2022! What is it? It’s still a month away, and half the planet is not even halfway through the dullest world cup in history’s early rounds?
Never mind, Marvel is coming to help us put the nil-behind nil’s us with Phase IV of the MCU’s newest installment. This permits fanboys to create seven-hour YouTube videos about their favorite characters, while requiring the rest of us to feign interest in a universe designed by a committee that appears to be breaking apart before our eyes. I’m very certain that Blade was supposed to be a part of the current phase back in 2019, but that never occurred, so I believe it’s safe to assume that Marvel’s plans are, as usual, made up as they go along.
So as to check a corporate box for new streaming content, James Gunn’s modest return involves the Guardians of the Galaxy characters, who seem to have never left our screens in multiple franchises (Thor, Avengers), but are now seen in the context of a pathetic Christmas television special.
The inspiration, if that is the correct term, is the infamous 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special, a garish cash-in that George Lucas later repudiated. containing a variety of dull to terrible filler from bands such as Jefferson Starship and a notable cameo from Bea Arthur from the Golden Girls. Therefore, we should keep in mind that the GoG Holiday Special is intended to be humorous, despite the fact that its objective appears to be little more than bait-and-switch the audience and fill 39 minutes with off-brand content you didn’t ask for or want.
“I don’t know what Christmas is, but Christmastime is here” is the opening musical salvo by The Old 97’s; they also contribute the closing song Here It is, It’s Christmastime. The opening credits are accompanied by the Pogues’ rendition of “Fairytale of New York,” and a single laugh is elicited by the ‘introducing Kevin Bacon’ credit before the story begins. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, largely missing) is depressed, so Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) abduct Kevin Bacon to cheer him up and help him find the true meaning of Christmas. That concludes the story. The conclusion.
Gunn has always viewed himself as a black-comedy maverick, but the GoG Holiday Special plays it relatively safe in terms of content, with little expensive CGI so bare-bones cameos from Groot (Vin Diesel) and Starfox (Bradley Cooper) and Peter Quill has a single last-turkey-in-the-store scene before the climax. Drax and Mantis visit Hollywood Boulevard, take pictures with Marvel fans, get miroculously drunk, and then fight various police officers who, apparently, are just doing their jobs; this is black humor in 2022.
With decades of commercials for phone companies under his belt, playing himself should be Kevin Bacon’s defining part, but he doesn’t bring much to the table here. Streamers require consistent content, but the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a lump of coal where a sparkly present would have been more appropriate; this type of self-indulgence may gratify die-hard devotees, but it is difficult to watch for the more casual, disengaged audience. Nevertheless, Merry Christmas to everyone!