By, Phoenix Robertson
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
On November 25, 2022, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was released on Disney Plus. Featuring well known characters in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, such as Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Nebula, and Mantis, this 44-minute special showed the Guardians preparing a special holiday gift for Star-Lord, also known as Peter Quill, while learning about the true meaning of the holiday season for themselves.
As a big fan of Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy, I was extremely excited to see these characters in a less serious setting–although one could argue that they are never serious–than what I am used to. In this film, as opposed to fighting inter-dimensional crime, the Guardians, specifically Mantis and Drax, fought Star-Lord’s negative memories of what Christmas was like for him as a child on a Ravager spaceship after he was kidnapped from Earth. In this article, I will give a brief history of the Guardians of the Galaxy based on their roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the MCU, as well as a review of the holiday special that was recently released.
Before I begin discussing the holiday special and the Guardians of the Galaxy in general, I’d like to talk about my inspiration for this article. I have always been a fan of Marvel and comic books in general, but my curiosity in analyzing Marvel was recently sparked by my Uncle. He is also very interested in Marvel, specifically the multiverse that the MCU has created. This article is based on a conversation that I had with him recently, so I would like to dedicate this article to my Uncle. Thank you for inspiring me to write this!
Who Are The Guardians of the Galaxy?
The Guardians of the Galaxy first made their debut in the Marvel comic book universe in 1969 in the comic “Marvel Super-Heroes #18”. The original hero line-up included Vance Astro, Martinex T’Naga, Captain Charlie-27, and everyone’s favorite blue alien, Yondu Udonta. The team went on to include Nikki, Aleta Ogord, and Stakar Ogord. This crime fighting team was created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy team is comprised of Star-Lord, also known as Peter Quill, a half-human and half-Celestial who was taken from his home on Earth as a child and who serves as the leader of the team; Gamora and Nebula, the adopted daughters of Thanos; Rocket Raccoon, a devious raccoon creature who has a knack for weapon building and theft; Drax, also known as Drax the Destroyer, a Kylosian warrior; Mantis, Star-Lord’s sister with the ability to understand the feelings of others with a single touch; and Groot, a plant humanoid who is in some ways, a man of few words–these few words being, “I am Groot”. He was at first only able to be understood by his closest friend on the team, Rocket Racoon; however, the other Guardians have gained the ability to understand his three word language.
As a team of cosmic protectors, the Guardians work together to defend worlds across the galaxy from intergalactic threats.
The Guardians in the MCU
The Guardians first encounter with the MCU was in their hit debut movie, the Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. In this film, the Guardians fight against Ronan, also called Ronan the Accuser, who is trying to become in possession of a powerful orb. The team assembles to defend the universe from the evil of Ronan and the power that he would have if he is able to gain the orb. The film starred major actors such as Chris Pratt, in the role of Star-Lord; Zoe Saldaña, as Gamora; and Vin Diesel, as Groot. The Guardians of the Galaxy was a major success in the box office and made 773.3 million dollars.
In 2017, the Guardians made their comeback in the creatively named sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This film, which made 863.8 million dollars in the box office, featured a few new faces in the MCU, such as Kurt Russell, who played Ego. This film dove deeper into the origins of Star-Lord and the idea of a found family.
Other films in the MCU that the Guardians have been featured in include Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and Thor: Love and Thunder.
The Holiday Special
I thoroughly enjoyed The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. It was an excellent mix of the classic holiday movie vibes, such as learning the meaning of the holiday season and finding joy in helping others, with the general outer-space goofiness that you find in any movie with the Guardians team as characters.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special follows Drax and Mantis on their quest to get the perfect Christmas gift for one of their teammates, Star-Lord.Peter revealed to the other Guardians that after he began living with the Ravagers–a team of space pirates–he had a very complicated history with Christmas. He tried to give Christmas gifts and explain the concept of giving gifts to demonstrate appreciation for a person, and it did not go over well. A young Peter was told by Yondu that a Ravager doesn’t give and if they want something, then they have to take it for themselves. After this moment, Peter said that he viewed the holiday season very differently because he realized that he would never have the same experiences during the holiday season that he had when he lived on Earth. Sensing the somber feelings coming from Peter, Mantis and Drax decide to make a trip to Earth to retrieve the hero of their team’s leader–none other than the mighty and powerful lord of the dance, at least on the silver screen, Kevin Bacon. The rest of the special consists of Mantis and Drax engaging in comedic antics during their time on Earth. In this section, I will discuss my top moments in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
One of my favorite moments in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is when Kevin Bacon is kidnapped by two of the members of the Guardians, Mantis and Drax, and is then taken from his home on Earth to an alien planet where he is placed in a gift wrapped box as a present for Star-Lord. This moment in the movie is a perfect example of doing a bad thing but for a good reason. Drax and Mantis also did not understand that Kevin Bacon, the famous Earth-grown actor best known for his role in Footloose, is an actor and not a true dancing hero. This misconception is absolutely hilarious, as it shows how, in Drax’s case at least, how pure of heart Drax and Mantis are. It also demonstrates the importance of realizing that your heroes are not perfect. Drax and Mantis are not perfect. Kevin Bacon, if you can describe him as a hero, is also not perfect. I think that this is an important idea to portray in movies that center around heroes, especially ones that are often idolized by young children. It is crucial for children, and people of all ages, to understand that their heroes are not perfect.
Another excellent moment in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special happens as soon as Drax and Mantis crash land on Earth, after deciding to kidnap Kevin Bacon as a Christmas gift for their beloved Star-Lord. Mantis and Drax head to Hollywood to acquire their magical gift for Star-Lord, but they are mistaken for cosplayers. They soon play into this mistake when they realize that they need money to buy a map to the houses of the stars, so they can track down Kevin Bacon. Mantis and Drax then spend hours with fans posing and taking photos of them.
As a fan of cosplay, I absolutely adored this portion of the special and how Marvel decided to pay homage to their fans in these scenes. Despite the fact that they–the production team and directors–didn’t have to include this in the special, as there are a multitude of interesting things that they could have had Drax and Mantis do to experience Hollywood; with that said, I am pleasantly surprised that they decided to give a bit of appreciation to their cosplaying fans. This kind of recognition of fans and fan theories was also found in Marvel’s recent series, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. During the show’s nine episode run, She-Hulk, Bruce Banner’s cousin, encounters the group Intelligencia. Intelligencia is an online group, primarily men, that believe She-Hulk is inferior to the Hulk, strictly because she is a woman. I believe that this group was included as the villain in the series to address the feelings that certain fans were experiencing about She-Hulk. While I do not support these negative ideas about She-Hulk, I do support Marvel in trying to address fans and fans ideas in their newly produced media.
The Guardians will see their next glimpse of the spotlight in 2023 in their next film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The trailer for that film has recently been released, and you can view it here: Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 | Official Trailer. Thank you for reading this article, and let me know in the comments below what you thought about the holiday special and who your favorite Guardians are! (My favorites are definitely Mantis, Nebula, and Rocket Raccoon.)