Marvel Mondays: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Plot summary: Determined to cheer Peter up for Christmas, Mantis and Drax endeavour to bring him his hero: Kevin Bacon.

Notes

Special Title: ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’

Release Date: November 25th, 2022

Directed: James Gunn (3)

Written: James Gunn (3)

The Star Wars Holiday Special blah blah blah

After taking a picture with Drax a woman remarks that she got a photo with the God of War. The protagonist of the GoW video games is Kratos, a similarly enormous bald man covered in red markings who wields twin blades.

Mark Hamill is one of the Knowhere bystanders getting drunk during the celebrations, and a deflated Santa calls on him.

There are many posters for Kingo movies, because of course.

Recap

In animated flashback, Kraglin tells the other Guardians how Yondu ruined Christmas for Star-Lord as a child. This bothers Mantis… who has confided in Drax between films that she is Peter’s sister.

Drax suggests they give Kevin Bacon to Peter as a present, as he’s the person Quill has talked about more than any other over the years.

Travelling to earth, the pair eventually find their way to Kevin Bacon’s house thanks to a celebrity house tour map. Obviously, he tells them to go away, but after some hijinks they kidnap him anyway.

Returning to Knowhere, they cover the plaza in (stolen) decorations and fake snow, and while Peter is initially enraptured, he of course freaks out when he learns they stole a man.

But after learning from Kraglin what he means to Peter, Bacon agrees to stay and party with them for the night. There’s singing, dancing, present swapping. It’s all very cute.

Mantis learns from Peter that Yondu actually ended up gifting him his signature guns after softening on Christmas after all. She tells him her secret, and he calls it the best Christmas gift of all.

Review

This felt like an elaborate, extremely high budget DVD extra. (There’s your scathing Letterboxd one line-review!)

I don’t think it’s bad by any means, but it’s also just kind of nothing. If not for the fact I’ve got podcast about it twice in the next six months, I don’t think I’ll ever think about it or watch it again. But again, I actually don’t think it was bad!

Your mileage will vary depending on your current feelings about the Guardians movies and cast, specifically Mantis and Drax. I personally think there have been diminishing returns for all of these things with each outing, and am actually kind of glad the impending Vol. 3 is ostensibly the last hurrah. Some people are still really into what Gunn has crafted over the years, others are over it completely. So for me this was hit and miss, but if you’re on either of those two extremes I think you’ll get more or less out of it.

Buff Groot? Horrifying. Buff Groot being gifted a Gameboy to continue his running gag of outdated handheld gaming devices? Good! Ditto Nebula acquiring Bucky’s arm for Rocket. Cosmo is a good boy. I assume CraftTube will be making knock-off versions of Groot’s woodcarvings for the next month. Tossing out the reveal that the Guardians purchased Knowhere from The Collector was certainly a choice, though to be fair to them, the set looks gorgeous when it’s done up for Christmas. I also like Drax and Mantis’ Christmas outfits.

Obviously, it should go without saying Gunn is still curating monstrously good soundtracks. Opening with ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ wins some bonus points for sure, but we’ve also got some nice deep cut Christmas songs from the Wombats, Fountains of Wayne, Julian Casablancas and Low. On top of that, there are a pair of surprisingly good original songs performed by Old 97s, playing Bzermikitokolok and the Knowheremen. If you told me ahead of time there’s an alien band doing original Christmas songs and one of them features Kevin Bacon on vocals, I think I’d cringe… but they ended up being two of the best moments of the special.

Not entirely sure how I feel about making a joke out of attempted police brutality, but on the other hand Drax and Mantis beat up a bunch of cops… so… call it even?

Most Marvellous Player

Most of the cast are barely in this thing, with even Chris Pratt playing Star-Lord shockingly straight, so we’re really only looking at three candidates here… although Rhett Miller, lead singer of the Old 97’s, is shockingly good for a non-actor.

Kevin Bacon is exactly as bad as you’d think, so let’s rule him out straight away. He was fun when he got to sing, but the rest of the time it’s just the typically awful self-aware celebrity playing themselves garbage. Hahaha he’s doing a bad British accent and now he thinks he’s Batman! Hahaha!

I’m happy Pom Klementieff got to branch out a smidge, and I think I’d give her the apathetic nod in this category. She’s a great actor who has been saddled with some borderline gross shtick up until now. It’s not gone completely, but letting her laugh and cry and shout and fight and jump around like a maniac and have a heart to heart at the end was something. I liked her Jedi Mind Tricking the tour guide into giving them all her money.

Dave Bautista’s work as Drax took a colossal nosedive after his debut outing, and while he and Pom may have a degree of chemistry, I think sidelining them away from the main cast as a double act has sandbagged both of them. Them getting the majority of the screen time here is a red flag that they’ll yet again have very little to do in Volume 3. I guess him choosing a “little funny man” over Peter was good.

Villain Watch

Ummmm. The police open fire on an unarmed Drax?

Mantis & Drax engage in theft and human trafficking?

I don’t know, man? Disney? Capitalism?

Plugs

My MCU podcast with Ben Phillips, Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey, will return in early 2023 to cover this and all the other 2022 Marvel projects.

We’ll be crossing over with The Superhero Pantheon before then to talk about Phase 4 of the MCU. Rankings, questions, the future, all that jazz. Look for it vaguely soon.

In the mean time, check out my other podcast with Ben, There Will Be Movies, which looks at 25 of our favourite movies from each decade. Our fourth volume is the 1980s, continuing this week with Die Hard.

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Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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