What The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Does Better Than Marvel's Disney+ Shows

Kraglin in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+
(Image credit: Disney+)

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special is out on Disney+ and gave viewers a lot to think about regarding Vol. 3. Even with the first trailer for the next Guardians movie out, there’s still a lot that this special presentation did to help inform and prepare audiences for that movie. There are some real lessons for it to impart, and Marvel's future Disney+ shows should take notes on the things I think the special did better than most shows we’ve seen before. 

With more specials and shows on the way from Marvel in 2023 and beyond, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a great blueprint for what to prioritize going forward. No doubt Marvel and its showrunners are learning and tightening the ship with each new project, but they could definitely benefit from making sure these positives from the holiday special are kept in mind. 

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

(Image credit: Disney+)

The Special Did A Lot To Lay Out The Smaller Plot Points Of The Next Guardians Movie

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special didn’t lay out the entire plot of what’s going on in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but it did get a few smaller but important plot points out of the way. We learned the Guardians purchased Knowhere from The Collector, Mantis is Peter’s half-sister and that Nebula found a way to get Bucky’s arm for Rocket Raccoon. Oh, and we heard Cosmo for the first time, and she'll be along for the ride with the team in some capacity in the next movie. 

As mentioned, these aren’t major things, but they helped Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in a great way. With those stories out of the way, James Gunn likely had more time to spend on what’s going on with Gamora and maybe even show a bit more of Adam Warlock. No runtime in the movie was wasted on the above, and yet, fans still had a chance to see it rather than learn about it via some chunk of dialogue in the movie. This is the great happy medium the Disney+ shows can provide and a helpful space they can operate in. 

While a previous Disney+ show like WandaVision was a fun ride and certainly set up some cool MCU things we’ll no doubt learn more about down the road, I’d argue it did a disservice to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. By giving Wanda some redemption in the end and not leaning into the villainous side she showed much of the series, I feel like it made her full-villain twist in Multiverse of Madness a bit jarring. There was definitely a disconnect between the two projects, and I think it could’ve been better executed. 

In fairness to WandaVision, it had a much bigger development to set up than anything revealed in The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special. Even so, there’s obvious value in Marvel ensuring these shows are setting up the next steps for their heroes as much as possible, and I’d argue the shows haven’t always been the best about doing that. I get that we don’t want television content that exists solely to serve the movies, but there are ways to execute it that benefit both the show and whatever’s being promoted. 

Groot in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+

(Image credit: Disney+)

Fans Got A Chance To See The Heroes In A More Relaxed Setting

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a fun adventure with a lot going on, but in no way is this some high-flying, action-packed thrill ride that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. There’s a bit of action when Mantis and Drax kidnap Kevin Bacon, but really, them beating up some police officers is about as far as the fighting goes. This adventure relies primarily on banter and seeing the Guardians in a more relaxed setting than we’re used to. 

It’s a reminder that, for the most part, we don’t see Marvel’s heroes in the MCU unless they’re facing adversity or fighting with the fate of the world on their shoulders. Obviously when the stakes are at their highest, people are going to act a different way than they would normally. Superheroes aren’t immune to this, unless they’re Batman, and we’ve seen how he lives. No disrespect to Bruce Wayne, but that’s unhealthy, so it was refreshing to see even Guardians like Nebula can relax every so often. 

What makes The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special such a fun adventure is its novelty. In anime, there’s always a handful of filler episodes where the heroes have a beach day or something goofy between all the action and adventure. Until very recently, these types of adventures didn’t exist in Marvel, and I doubt it was anything fans were clamoring for either. Eating shawarma after saving New York City was one thing, but a whole project centered around low stakes was another. 

And yet, I think there’s something cool happening in the wake of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. We’ve seen two examples of Marvel existing in genres that aren’t heavily reliant on action scenes, and it’s very entertaining. Plus, they give us an opportunity to see heroes in a setting unlike we typically would. Do we need to see what Daredevil is like after a one-night stand? No. Was it still great to see? Absolutely. 

Now, am I saying that we need dozens of shows that are full of Marvel heroes doing everything but kick some ass? No, I’m not, as I recognize that superhero movies/shows are made primarily as action-driven adventures.

What I am saying is that there is certainly room for more specials like The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and that we need to see more of them sooner rather than later. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what the MCU can do on Disney+, but I’d say, at the very least, that these two things are worth pursuing and prioritizing as more projects come up. 

Stream The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special right now if you have a Disney+ subscription, though I’d wager a decent amount of Marvel fans don’t need to be told to do that. 2022 has come to a close for Marvel, but that means a new year of upcoming Marvel movies is on the way. Be sure to check out what’s coming up, and cross those fingers for more specials like the one we recently saw.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.