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Guardians Holiday Special: James Gunn Clarifies When The Disney+ Original Is Set Within The MCU

Chris Pratt in footage from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
(Image credit: Marvel)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is always growing, with Phase Four expanding the franchise with both movies and original content for streaming audiences. One of these types of projects is the upcoming Guardians Holiday Special, which is expected to arrive this coming Holiday Season. And now director James Gunn has clarified when the Disney+ original with the Guardians is set within the MCU.

Since their introduction in 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy have remained fan favorite characters within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As such, anticipation is high for Guardians 3, which will seemingly end the story of the current team. But first we’ll get the mysterious Holiday Special, with James Gunn recently asked on Twitter about exactly when the yuletide action will be set in the Marvel timeline. He answered honestly, saying:

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Well, there you have it. It looks like the future appearances by the Guardians in the MCU will take place chronologically. As such, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be set after the events of Thor 4, but before whatever is coming with Guardians 3. Buckle up, because a ton of content with the cosmic heroes is coming.

James Gunn clarified the timeline of the Guardians’ journey in Phase Four on Twitter, once again showing his generosity by fielding questions directly from the fandom. And he sometimes uses the social media platform to shut down rumors about his superhero projects, for both Marvel and DC. Although this clarification is sure to help further increase anticipation for the upcoming appearances by the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Exactly what’s coming with The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is largely a mystery, but it’s been teased to be intimately connected to the events of Guardians 3. The special was filmed towards the end of production on James Gunn’s threequel, where the starring cast was able to continue being assembled. Gunn has a master plan for his cosmic corner of the MCU, and smart money says the final entries in his saga are going to be emotional.

But first up, the Guardians of the Galaxy will return to the big screen this summer in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder. They were featured pretty significantly in the first teaser trailer, which can be seen above. It looks like Chris Hemsworth’s hulking hero might have joined the Ravagers, which is sure to be an interesting turn to his strained relationship with Star-Lord.

Smart money says an overarching theme of the upcoming Guardians projects in the MCU will be surrounding the search for Gamora. While she was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, the 2014 version of Zoe Saldaña’s character was brought back into the timeline thanks to the Time Heist. While she fought against Thanos with the Avengers, Gamora departed the battlefield to places unknown.

Thor: Love and Thunder will hit theaters on July 8th, while The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is expected sometime in December. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.