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The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special: 7 Quick Things To Know About The Disney+ Program

The Guardians of the Galaxy cast
(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

It has been eight years since James Gunn and Marvel Studios asked audiences to take a chance on Guardians of the Galaxy  and see a new side of the MCU in August 2014. Among the things Marvel fans have to look forward to is the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Based on Gunn's comments on the Hero Nation podcast, we will soon say our our goodbyes to this team of Guardians. But before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens in theaters in May 2023 and brings an end to the offbeat group’s nearly 10-year journey, Disney+ subscribers will get to take a little detour with the upcoming special.

If this is the first you’re hearing about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, don’t worry because we’re about to break down the program first revealed during the 2020 Disney Investors Day event. And while details about the story are being kept behind lock and key, there is actually quite a bit we do know about what sounds like a fun romp before the heaviness of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special logo

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Is Slated For A Late 2022 Release

Although an exact release date has not yet been announced, everyone from Marvel to Disney to James Gunn himself have stated that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will premiere on Disney+ at some point around the holidays in late 2022. No matter when it comes out in the final weeks of the year, the special will undoubtedly be one of the biggest shows on the final stretch of the 2022 TV schedule

Mantis, Peter Quill and Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Image credit: Marvel Studio)

The Holiday Special Takes Place Between Thor: Love And Thunder And Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

One of the bigger questions surrounding The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special since its announcement nearly two years ago has to deal with the program’s place in the MCU and if it will be part of the shared universe’s official canon. Well, that was put to rest in April 2022, when James Gunn responded to a fan on Twitter who asked if the special would be a one-off event or part of the bigger picture by saying it will take place between Thor: Love and Thunder and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

With the special being the bridge between the two movies, we might get to learn how the band of misfit heroes spent their time after Thor (Chris Hemsworth) went off to save the universe in the Summer 2022 box office smash hit.

Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista stand stoically with guns in hand in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.,

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Not All Of The Guardians Will Be In The Holiday Special

Although the upcoming Disney+ holiday special will feature a large portion of the core Guardians of the Galaxy team, not all of its members will make an appearance. In May 2022, when someone shared a mocked-up title card on Twitter, James Gunn responded in a tweet saying that not all of the characters featured in the fan art were even in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, though he didn’t expand on who will or won’t be showing up.

The most likely candidate to be absent is Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who famously died in Avengers: Infinity War so that Thanos (Josh Brolin) could secure the Soul Stone during his crusade to bring balance to the universe. And while Gamora did return the following year in Avengers: Endgame, it wasn’t the version that had fallen in love with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) but instead a variant from a different timeline. While Zoe Saldana is among the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 cast, she was not with the Guardians the last time we saw them (or the time before that). 

Baby Groot in Guardians Vol. 2

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Is The ‘Epilogue’ Of Marvel Phase 4

During Marvel’s massive 2022 San Diego Comic-Con presentation, studio chief Kevin Feige walked members of the audience through the next few stages of the MCU, revealing that Phase 4 would come to an end with November’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And while Ryan Coogler’s upcoming sequel will be the final theatrical release before Phase 5 starts up in 2023, there will be an “epilogue” of sorts.

When asked about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and its place in the MCU on Twitter shortly after the event, the director responded by saying the Disney+ special will be “the epilogue of Phase 4.” 

Rocket and Baby Groot in Guardians 2

(Image credit: Disney)

James Gunn Says One Of The ‘Greatest MCU Characters Of All Time’ Will Be Introduced

Another bit of exciting information surrounding The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special s is that it will introduce a new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back in October 2021, James Gunn was asked on Twitter if there would be any new characters appearing alongside the Guardians, to which he responded by saying the special will introduce “one of the greatest MCU characters of all time.”

Gunn has been rather tight-lipped about it all since then, but with some new faces showing up in 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, perhaps we'll see Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock or maybe Maria Baklova’s Cosmo the Space Dog or maybe even Chukwudi Iwuji’s High Evolutionary, all of whom are slated to appear in the Marvel Phase 5 movie. But who knows, it could be someone else entirely.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cast

(Image credit: Disney)

James Gunn Has Said The Holiday Special Is ‘Unlike Anything’ Anyone Has Seen

Throughout his career, James Gunn has some rather ridiculous things in his movies, but it sounds like The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will soon outdo some of his past accomplishments. When speaking with in March 2022, not only did Gunn call the upcoming Disney+ special the “greatest thing” he’s done, it’s also one of the most unique, saying:

It’s totally ridiculous, and every day we can’t believe that we’re making it. We all completely love it. It is unlike anything that anyone’s ever seen before. I can’t wait for people to see it. And it’s pretty soon. You know, it’s out this Christmas. It’s not like people have to wait that long.

And coming from someone whose work ranges from small budget horror movies like Slither to massive summer blockbusters like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, these comments should have fans even more excited about the upcoming holiday special.

Chris Prat in Guardians Of The Galaxy

(Image credit: Marvel)

Production On The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Wrapped In May 2022

Although there hasn’t been an announced release date for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, the upcoming Disney+ title has already completed filming. In fact, James Gunn revealed in an April 2022 tweet that principal photography wrapped earlier that month with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 finishing shooting the following week. Gunn had previously told EW that the movie and special would be shooting at the same time and that they were using some of the same sets for both productions.

Expect to hear more about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in weeks and months to come. In the meantime, check out all the other great Marvel titles and more available with a Disney+ subscription.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.