6 Reasons The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Will Become A Christmas Staple

Star-Lord surrounded by Christmas lights in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
(Image credit: Disney+)

Every year, it seems more and more holiday specials come to various TV channels and streaming services, only to be forgotten by the time we take down the Christmas tree. Sure, there are exceptions like A Charlie Brown Christmas (which is streaming, by the way), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, but those, as you can probably tell, are all more than 50 years old. And we don’t really get too many memorable new specials these days, let alone titles that become Christmas staples. 

Well, following the long-awaited premiere of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in November 2022, I think we have another addition to that list of all-time greats. Not only do I think James Gunn’s Disney+ exclusive is one of the most fun experiences in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I whole-heartedly think it has all the qualities to become the next great Christmas special. Let me explain how…

The Guardians handed out presents and holiday cheer in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

(Image credit: Disney+)

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Appeals To Children And Adults Alike

If there is one thing A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! have in common (besides being holiday specials), it’s the fact that they all have universal appeal and can be enjoyed by the young and young at heart. After watching The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, it’s safe to say that the story of Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) trying to give Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) the best Christmas possible is right up there with those classics. 

I watched the special with my wife and my three kids, and all five of us were motionless throughout its 45-minute runtime, which everyone with kids knows is a Christmas miracle in itself. It has humor, heart, and the perfect amount of nostalgia (those rotoscoped segments brought the feels), creating an incredibly fun and worthwhile experience.

Mantis and Drax walk through Hollywood in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

(Image credit: Disney+)

The Holiday Special Has A Timeless Quality To It

Even though The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is set during the more recent part of the MCU timeline, it still has a timeless quality to it that I don’t think will age over time. Despite this, and the modern technology seen throughout the Earth segments, its modern setting never really has any effect on the story and the joy that comes from it. Sure, there are pop culture references that make you think back to different eras, but the combining of these different periods of time creates a charming experience.

And this is because the special is about the holiday season, the cheer, and the togetherness that come with it, making us think back to those days of yesteryear and the memories we carry with us years, and decades, later.

Mantis giving Drax a present in The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special

(Image credit: Disney+)

There Are Incredibly Funny And Touching Moments

The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has long been home to some of the funniest characters in the MCU as well as some of Marvel’s most touching moments, and the recent holiday special is no different. James Gunn’s signature blend of humor and heart is tailor-made for a holiday special, and is honestly what takes the title from being good and turns it into something timeless.

There were moments where I couldn’t stop laughing (Drax and the inflatable elf, an oddly jacked Groot, the Winter Soldier’s vibranium arm) and others where I was in need of a tissue (the Mantis reveal, Peter Quill losing the holiday spirit, Yondu once again proving he’s the best), which is honestly what makes the holidays so great.

Mantis and Peter Quill hugging in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

(Image credit: Disney+)

It Touches On The True Meaning Of The Holidays

There are a lot of presents being handed out and festive decorations on display throughout The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, but the Disney+ exclusive also touches on the true meaning of the holidays: spending quality time and expressing your gratitude with those who mean the most to you.

Throughout the special, Mantis has an internal battle about whether or not she should tell Peter Quill that they are half-siblings and have the same father, Ego, and force him to relive bad memories. After mustering the courage to tell him of this discovery, Quill responds by saying that it is the greatest Christmas gift he could get. This incredibly touching moment is like the bow on the special, and reminded me that this special season is about embracing my own family and everything that comes with it.

Old 97's and Chris Pratt in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

(Image credit: Disney+)

The Soundtrack Is Great, Including The New Original Songs

“Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues (featuring the late Kristy MacCool) is undoubtedly my favorite Christmas song and has been that way for about as long as I can remember. I knew as soon as I heard that oh-so-familiar piano come in during the opening moments of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, I had a feeling James Gunn was about to outdo himself with the rest of the soundtrack. And, he did just that with songs like Julian Casablancas' “Christmas Treat,” The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping,” and “Is This Christmas” by The Wombats.

That’s not even taking into consideration the two original tracks by Old 97’s — “I Don’t Know What Christmas Is” and “Here It Is Christmastime” with Kevin Bacon. These two songs were immediately put on my Christmas playlist after the special ended, and I have a feeling they will become permanent fixtures for many holidays to come.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

It Doesn’t Necessarily Require Prior Knowledge Of The Guardians Of The Galaxy To Enjoy

Sure, those who are caught up to speed with all things Marvel will have a great appreciation of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and all its references, but the experience isn't dependent on having seen all the movies. It has enough humor, heart, and holiday cheer to appeal to everyone (as mentioned above), and that’s really what makes it so great. If anything, this could inspire people to go back and watch the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, making this the gift that keeps on giving.

Overall, I am in love with The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for that ragtag group. We won’t have to wait all that long, as the long-awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is right around the corner, along with several other upcoming Marvel movies.

Stream The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

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 barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.