Guardians Of The Galaxy Fans Will Need To Watch the MCU Holiday Special Before Vol. 3

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Updated:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 logo, Guardians of the Galaxy team, Guardians Holiday Special logo

The current iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy is set to finish off its MCU run, but there is still a lot to unravel due to the presence of two upcoming projects centered around the team.

Before the team's emotionally infused adventure in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Peter Quill and the rest of the gang will first return in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The upcoming special will reunite every member of the Guardians in a holiday-themed adventure, but exact plot details are still being kept under wraps.

James Gunn will return to direct the Disney+ special, and it will also feature the same cast from the movies consisting of Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel. It is currently unknown if Zoe Saldana will return in the festive one-off considering that Gamora is nowhere to be found after the events of Avengers: Endgame

Gunn previously shared a sneak peek of the Holiday Special's script on social media while also confirming that it will be set after Thor: Love and Thunder and before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Now, more bits of information about the upcoming one-off have emerged. 


Guardians of the galaxy holiday special

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn sat down with Collider to talk about the connections between the upcoming The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+ and the highly-anticipated third installment of the franchise. 

Gunn confirmed during the interview that the Holiday Special will contain "stuff that you need to learn before [Guardians of the Galaxy] Vol. 3:"

“It’s in-canon, it’s about the Guardians, you’re gonna learn stuff that you need to learn before Volume 3, and it’s great I’m really happy with it.”

The veteran MCU director then shared an update about the production of the two upcoming projects, confirming that he will film the Holiday Special "at the same time as the movie" while also using a "lot of the same sets:"

“I’m gonna film it at the same time as the movie. I’m using a lot of the same sets, the same actors obviously, so we’re filming simultaneously with the film but it’s gonna have to be edited and finished sooner.”

At the end of the interview, Gunn confirmed that the Holiday Special would clock in "under 40 minutes."


James Gunn's latest comments about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special suggest that the festive one-off will serve as a preview of what's to come in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This goes to show that the special episode is essential to understand some plot elements of Vol. 3, but how it fits into the overall narrative remains to be seen. 

Given the interconnected nature of the MCU and the fact that the special is set after Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder (where the Guardians will also appear), it looks like fans will also need to watch the Thor installment to fully understand what's going on.

Still, Marvel is known for crafting stories within its films that casual audiences can still understand, so this could hint that elements like significant lines and Easter eggs will be present throughout those projects for fans to better grasp the narrative. 

On a plot level, not much is known on why the Guardians will be imbued with the holiday spirit on space, but there's a strong chance that Chris Pratt's Peter Quill could be the anchor of the whole ordeal. This is due to the fact that he's the only human aboard the Benatar, and Star-Lord could simply be missing the Christmas vibe especially now that he found his family away from home. 

Considering that Christmas is a time when reunions are bound to happen, the Guardians' longing for Gamora could be the added boost for their search in Vol. 3, thus paving the way for their galactic adventure in the threequel. 

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is set to premiere on Disney+ in 2022 while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will hit theaters on May 5, 2023. 

- In This Article: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date
May 05, 2023
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.