The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Review

By Kieran Burt.

Marvel has released their second special presentation (a TV film or one-shot with a fancier name), centering on the Guardians of the Galaxy at Christmas time, and it brings some much needed festive cheer to the world. It’s very charming and funny, bringing a new perspective on Christmas that allows two of the other Guardians to shine. 

The 44 minute show  rightly focuses on Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff), two Guardians who receive less of a focus in the films. But Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) presence casts a long shadow, as they try to find him the perfect gift. If audiences have seen prior Guardians appearances, then the sense of joy to be gained from this family of misfits is huge, with this show building off those relationships. 

Drax and Mantis fly to Earth for this perfect gift, and they have a funny wander round with some excellent fish out of water comedy, failing to understand a lot of how things are done. Drax gets a particularly clever bit about a Christian decoration, and learning what an actor is.

The presentation ticks all the boxes of the traditional Christmas special, with merry tunes (including a hilarious original song, with an outside perspective of the festival), celebrity guests, and sentimental theme. This is far and away better than the attempt that Hawkeye put up last year, which simply was a standard MCU action story with Christmas decorations tacked on. 

While the story is paper-thin, with no side plots or distractions, it’s meant to be that. It’s not here to set up the next Guardians film (though a couple of bits might come back), the show just wants to play around at Christmas. And that’s the best part about it. Some people are feeling Marvel fatigue settling, this uncomplicated story will be the perfect palette cleanser, especially after the heavy story of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

There is the familial love that’s a constant throughout the Guardians films, with Drax and Mantis desperate to find Quill the perfect gift. The true hero of Earth, Kevin Bacon. His involvement in the special is much more than a simple cameo, he’s integral to making this work. He is clearly having his share of Christmas fun, even breaking into song by the end. 

But Mantis and Drax don’t get all the laughs. Quill has an amazing line (and Pratt’s shocked delivery) when he reveals the seriousness of what Mantis and Drax have done (but they’re outside of the US’s jurisdiction, so it’s probably OK), Nebula proves she truly understands Rocket with the greatest gift in the MCU, and the post credits tag leaves the show on a high. 

All these elements come together for an easily digestible show about a family audiences have spent around eight years coming to love. If there’s one gift that Kevin Feige could give us, it’s more of the  TV one-shots. They’re proving to be quite special after all.

Kieran Burt

My name is Kieran and I am based in the UK. I love writing about all things science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Wars and Marvel. When I’m not writing or watching anything sci-fi related, you can probably find me exploring the open worlds of alternate lands through my Xbox.

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