2022 is the year when some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best content airs as a television special on Disney Plus. It started with Werewolf by Night, and now, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special acts as a wonderful Christmas gift to add to our year-round viewing.
While we got a glimpse of what the space heroes were up to in Thor: Love and Thunder, the interactions in this holiday special bring back the magic of what made them so intriguing when we first watched the original film. And here, we’re also presented with the kind of secret that makes the unfortunate sequel feel less like a loss and more like a win. In an attempt to help restore Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) Christmas spirit and bring a little joy into his life after everything that happened with Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) plan to kidnap Kevin Bacon. And while the plan doesn’t go as planned, the two space heroes and the actor end up doing the trick to bring magic into Knowhere.
In a film that goes meta with acting and essentially mocks actors, there’s no denying that Pom Klementieff is the star of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Klementieff effortlessly plays with Mantis’ usual mannerisms while simultaneously bringing a level of heart that’s poignant. As Mantis tells Drax that she’s nervous about telling Peter the truth about their connection, the audience once again can get a clear glimpse of her compassion as well as her enormous capacity to love. And then, when we later watch her tell Peter that they’re siblings, even with the prosthetics that make Mantis, Klementieff does a great job of allowing her eyes to do the deeper talking.
Klementieff brings a new light and a whole lot of love to the franchise, reminding viewers that the inclusion of Mantis into the Guardians was the best thing to come from the sequel. James Gunn doesn’t miss a single beat here in allowing the writing to not only feel organic and authentic to the characters but to let it bleed into the spirit of Christmas beautifully. There’s also much to be said about how this final moment feels like the kind of holiday warmth that makes viewers believe in something more significant for a moment.
When it comes to holiday specials, we’re not always expecting something profound and moving. Most of the time, these specials are meant to be fun and engrossing as they allow viewers to see their favorite characters in situations that don’t require high stakes. Yet, at the same time, allowing the characters to sit with their sadness and the quiet, everyday positions they’re in unquestionably makes the story that much more engaging.
Surely, the third Guardians of the Galaxy will bring high stakes front and center, but right now, watching Knowhere turn into one of the most beautiful holiday locations is everything that’s needed to bring a bit of joy into the world. Simultaneously, the special allows us to go back to the quiet space where caring for these characters meant looking into the ugliest parts of them to see their best. Peter’s desolation is both understandable and heartbreaking; thus, seeing his face light up at Kevin Bacon’s entrance and then double with joy after learning that Mantis is his sister is the most likable the character has been since Infinity War.
There are countless reasons why The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special works in its short run-time, and the heart plus hilariously crafted beats of humor in the story is entirely why. It’s uproarious as the original film, gorgeously dazzling with all the holiday cheer, and the utter nonsense of watching Mantis and Drax on earth is everything. And, of course, Kevin Bacon—need I say more?
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming exclusively on Disney Plus.