Monday, May 15, 2023

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)


Kraglin (Sean Gunn) narrates what turns out to be an incomplete story on how Yondu ruined Christmas for Peter Quill. Upon hearing the sad tale, Mantis and Drax feel compelled to make things right for their friend by giving him something, or rather someone, to cheer him up. Who else would be more worthy other than his childhood hero Kevin Bacon (Kevin Bacon), right? Despite being warned by Nebula that it will be a waste of time, the duo heads to Earth, specifically Hollywood, to track down the actor, but he doesn’t seem as thrilled to see them when they finally discover his whereabouts. Mantis uses her empathic abilities to “encourage” him to go with them to save Christmas once and for all for Quill. As the spirit of the yuletide season begins to permeate Knowhere’s society which is mainly unaware of what the celebration is really about, family secrets are revealed and everyone ends up having a jolly good time after all.

Finally, we have a Mantis & Drax team-up which is probably the closest we can get to a sitcom starring these two. Their banter is still similar to what we have already witnessed in GoTG Vol. 2 as well as in Infinity War. Needless to say, it is that same brand of weird humor that sustains this 40-minute Christmas special. The absence of Gamora means less time for Quill, despite the storyline revolving around him once again while Nebula, Rocket, and a now-buff Groot remain primarily in the background.

Perhaps the biggest question has something to do with one of the Easter eggs, which is that of Nebula gifting Rocket Bucky’s vibranium arm. While there is no doubt that she can more or less give the Winter Soldier a run for his money in a one-on-one battle, we can’t help but wonder whether this will be canon. Will we be seeing Bucky walking around without his arm in the Thunderbolts film? I guess we’re going to have to find out. Otherwise, it is still a worthwhile revelation serving as a satisfying follow-through of Rocket and Bucky’s short but sweet team-up during the Battle of Wakanda.

Mantis’ sudden change of demeanor intrigues me a bit. I don’t know if Klementieff was just periodically getting in and out of character but it is evident how she seems to be evolving in terms of attitude, from being Ego’s timid and doormat assistant to gradually being argumentative and annoyed with Drax. Since she was only used as a plot device in Infinity War without much character development, it is nice to see this side of her slowly surface. Of course, her revelation that she is Quill’s half-sister also tightens her ties to the MCU as a whole and I can't help but wonder where they’ll take this character next.

I wish we could say the same for Drax, but he is still the same old muscle-bound oaf he has always been. It’s not as if we are yearning for any character development, though. Perhaps the only good character development we can expect from him is a prequel showing in detail how he came to be after Ronan murdered his family. Is he the last living member of his race? There are several interesting questions, but I guess they do not hold much water for the storyline to actually pay attention to him that much.

Cosmo the Dog (Maria Bakalova) is now shown as a new member of the Guardians and we also see Rocket training her telekinetic abilities. I wonder if she will be playing a larger role in Volume 3? And then we also have Nebula, whose backstory I also find intriguing. Will we get to know her better in the future? Or maybe we are just expecting too much from a holiday special which fulfills its purpose anyway. Is it just me or did this just end up being weirdly heartwarming? Like, I wouldn’t mind turning it into a must-watch tradition every Christmas. It is entertaining like that.

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