Almost no actor in history holds as unique of a place in Hollywood lore as Kevin Bacon, the man who is somehow connected to nearly every other star of the 20th and 21st century through the popular "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" theory. He's even found himself immortalized in one of the biggest franchises in history, the MCU, thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
In the first movie from 2014, Chris Pratt's Peter Quill told Zoe Saldaña's Gamora about the legend of Kevin Bacon, discussing his role in 1984's Footloose after Gamora told Quill that she doesn't dance. Bacon would then be mentioned again in Avengers: Infinity War when Mantis asked Thor if the actor was one of the Avengers, but that appears to be just the tip of the bacon-flavored iceberg.
Now, not only has Bacon actually found his way into the MCU as an actor, he makes history with both the role he's playing and his listing in the promo tour.
New Guardians Entry Features Kevin Bacon
In the first trailer for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Marvel Studios included Kevin Bacon as part of the list of characters to close out the footage.
After using all of the actors' character names such as Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, and the rest of the team, the trailer confirms that Kevin Bacon is playing an MCU version of himself in this Disney+ release. While this is far from the first time an actor has starred as themselves in the MCU, Bacon is the first to be officially billed as playing themselves, indicating this will be the biggest role of this kind.
Once the Guardians land on Earth in this trailer, Mantis and Drax make their way to Bacon's house in Southern California in order to steal him and give him to Star-Lord as a Christmas present. Clearly, Bacon isn't in favor of the idea of being used as a gift after Mantis and Drax break into his house, pushing his Christmas tree in front of the alien invaders before dashing down the street.
While Bacon is the first actor to be billed as himself in a Marvel Studios trailer, he's far from the only actor to play a fictionalized version of their real self. He actually marks the second in Phase 4 alone after Grammy Award-winner Megan Thee Stallion was seen in a cameo role during Episode 3 of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
A few other examples come from the Iron Man franchise, including political commentators Bill O'Reilly and Bill Maher in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, respectively. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also sees Ego the Living Planet take the form of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, with the actor also lending his musical talents to a song for the movie's credits sequence.
Following the trailer's release, Bacon took to Twitter to share his own reaction to joining the MCU, teasing that he might be on "the naughty list:"
"Did I miss that I was on the naughty list this year? The Guardians of the Galaxy are coming to collect. Don’t miss out, stream 11.25.22 on Disney+."
The MCU's One Degree of Kevin Bacon
With Kevin Bacon being something of a MacGuffin figure in this Holiday Special, it seems only fair that he gets the distinction of having this one-of-a-kind billing with the rest of the cast. Bacon also gets his wish of joining the MCU granted, even though it's probably not the exact role he was imagining for himself after first playing Sebastian Shaw in 2011's X-Men: First Class.
Director/writer James Gunn confirmed that Bacon was the wild character he was looking forward to introducing following the trailer's debut, and now, the wait only continues to see what the iconic actor will do in the MCU. While many fans were surely hoping that Bacon would get to play a Marvel from the comics, it's only fitting that he gets to join the franchise as himself after being mentioned by name in two past movies.
While his first interaction with Drax and Mantis is sure to be a stressful experience based on the footage in the trailer, there's already anticipation building to see what happens if and when Peter Quill meets one of his movie idols from Earth. This could be what actually makes the idea of going to Earth appealing to him in the first place, as Gunn has confirmed that he wanted to get off of his home world as soon as possible at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
But no matter how Bacon's role in this special works out, it marks a unique moment in MCU history as the franchise takes some real-world inspiration for its in-universe Christmas story.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will premiere on Disney+ on Friday, November 25.