The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a delightful stint for the MCU, but it’s also managed to make history for one particular reason.
James Gunn and the Guardians are back! And they’re just in time for Christmas, with the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special now available to stream on Disney+. We at Dexerto loved the special, and you can read our review of it here.
The official plot of the special is as thus: “It’s time to deck the galaxy! Lights, presents, trees, snowflakes, candy canes, and… Kevin Bacon? In the The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, the Guardians, who are on a mission to make Christmas unforgettable for Quill, head to Earth in search of the perfect present.” Sounds delightful, right?
If you were to think of the Guardians of the Galaxy as one thing, “wholesome” probably wouldn’t come to mind, however this Holiday Special has proven just how sweet these messy underdogs can be. Plus, this wholesome film has actually made history in the MCU, for one particular thing that makes it stand out from all other Marvel projects.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is the first MCU project without a villain
If you’ve followed the entirety of the MCU, you’ll see that every major film and TV show has its own villain, who goes toe to toe with the titular hero. In Phase Four alone, there’s been Agatha Harkness, Namor, and Gorr the God Butcher. Spider-Man: No Way Home had the entire rogues gallery, bringing back villains from both prior film franchises.
However, if you’ve seen the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday special, you’ll have noticed one thing: There’s no villain.
During an interview with Variety, Guardians of the Galaxy helmer James Gunn – who is now also helming DC – revealed that the film was not to have a villain, despite every other MCU project featuring one: “One thing that’s cool about it is there’s no bad guy in this one. There haven’t been any Marvel stories that I can remember where there hasn’t been a bad guy of some type.”
Gunn did go on to explain however that in the screenplay’s first treatment, there had originally been plans to have an antagonist, which would lead to a battle at the end that even involved Kevin Bacon, who makes a hilarious appearance in the Special.
“Before I wrote the screenplay, I wrote a treatment, and in the treatment there was this other threat. I just realized that I wasn’t interested in this other thing. There was an action sequence at the end where Kevin Bacon jumped around and was performing action stunts, which would have been pretty cool, but the threat didn’t interest me at all.”
Why didn’t James Gunn add a villain?
So what did interest Gunn? Well, “What interested me was the interaction between the characters. So I just cut that out and made it a story about people.”
The Guardians franchise, while always having foes to face, has often been a study on the protagonists themselves. You could argue that they can sometimes be their own villains, with their baggage and pride often putting them all in danger. Though this always leads to the Guardians connecting with one another and growing together by the end of each film.
So it makes sense that a Special set through Christmas, a time generally focused on family and self-reflection, would make the friendship between the Guardians the main focus, rather than any villain.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will have a villain, however
If you’re missing the villains, don’t worry, as the third film in the Guardians franchise will be featuring their biggest foe yet, known as the High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji.
Gunn actually created the Holiday Speical while working on Vol. 3, and revealed that he wrote it in only three days:
“In all honesty, I wrote the special in three days. Literally, there were no notes from Marvel and nothing changed except for that I occasionally add things while we’re shooting. It was really easy and it stayed easy throughout and that was great because Vol. 3 is actually very emotional.
“We shot them both simultaneously, so shooting Vol. 3 for a few days, which was tough going, and then having a day off to shoot this show was fun. Because the stakes on this were low. It was just goofy.”
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is available to stream now. You can sign up for Disney+ here.
If you click on a product link on this page we may earn a small affiliate commission.