After questions about if the MCU was ready to say goodbye to the age of cinematic phases, Marvel Studios silenced any doubts at this year's San Diego Comic-Con panel. The Hollywood giant revealed the timeline for Phase 5 (including films like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), as well as a tease of Phase 6, issuing the declaration that the current phase of MCU filmmaking ends with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
But one title that was noticeably absent from the timeline was the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The super-powered streaming title is set to debut this holiday season, with director James Gunn back for some holiday-themed Marvel action.
The Holiday Special is supposedly canon, so many believed it would kick off the MCU's Phase 5. But that does not seem to be the case, at least that is if James Gunn is to be believed.
The Phase 4 Epilogue
According to Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be the last project in Phase 4 of the MCU.
Gunn tweeted that the Holiday Special will serve as the "epilogue of Phase 4" as it comes out between Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (the official end of Phase 4) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (the beginning of Phase 5).
"The Guardians Holiday Special is the epilogue of Phase 4."
When prodded about the impact of the festive detour for the Guardians on the overall MCU, Gunn responded by saying "there's a lot of big information in there:"
"Absolutely; there's a lot of big information in there."
Will MCU Phase 4 Finish Differently Than Phase 3?
While it was different circumstances, this feels very much like the situation Spider-Man: Far From Home was in back in 2019. In that instance Far Far Home was left to be the clean-up hitter after the MCU magnum opus Avengers: Endgame.
While FFH closed the book on Phase 3, it seems that the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will do the same with Phase 4. Sure, the Holiday Special is likely to be a little bit lighter than Far From Home, but it serves the same purpose.
The way in which Marvel has ended their phases, really since Phase 1, has felt a little flippant, with no real intentionality behind how they end it. Phase 1 ended in the first Avengers film, but from there it was Ant-Man in Phase 2, Far From Home in Phase 3, and now the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in Phase 4.
But who knows, Gunn's festive intergalactic adventure could still be packed full of MCU-shifting events. The director even teases in his tweets that this streaming side story will be just as essential as anything else in the Marvel Studios canon.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is set to debut on Disney+ this holiday season.