It Didn't Take James Gunn Long To Write The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special

"The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" may not have shifted the status quo of the MCU, but it was just what superhero fans needed for the holiday season. The James Gunn-directed special presentation saw Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) go on an Earth-bound journey to save Christmas — by way of kidnapping Kevin Bacon as a gift for Star-Lord, of course. A heartfelt tribute to finding and nurturing family in the unlikeliest of places, Gunn made sure to tie all the holiday shenanigans to what matters most. And he came up with the story in just a few hours, too.

Although it's not a complicated story by any means, the "Holiday Special" does a lot for the featured characters. Drax and Mantis get some much-deserved screen time, while their loving relationship with the rest of the team is more solidified than ever. Who would've thought seeing the Guardians venture to Earth would be the perfect bridge to "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," but here we are crying because Mantis gave Peter Quill the perfect gift: The gift of family, revealing that she's his sister. It only took wanting to do a holiday special for Gunn to get his creative juices going quickly during the writing phase.

'A really funny idea'

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gunn explained where the idea of doing "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" came from, revealing he came up with the whole story in one sitting:

"When I was a kid, I loved the Star Wars Holiday Special, but I also loved Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. [...] So the idea of doing a holiday special with the Guardians was both a really funny idea to me and also something I really wanted to do. And once I sat down and started trying to figure out what the story was, the Kevin Bacon idea came up very, very quickly, and I wrote the whole story within a few hours."

I know Gunn displays some reverence for holiday specials of the past, but I'm just glad the quality of the "Star Wars Holiday Special" did not influence his project. "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" could have gone wrong fairly quickly — it's incredibly cheesy, takes place mostly on Earth, and, quite frankly, is centered on a concept that is ridiculous even for a "Guardians" film. Of course, it all works in spades. In typical Gunn fashion, he positions the events of the "Holiday Special" as a vital part of the almost decade-long journey we've been on with the Guardians.

The beginning of the end

Despite the relatively simple nature of "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special," its arrival is an important stepping stone to the final chapter of the "Guardians" saga. The fluffy holiday adventure not only gives under-looked characters a chance to shine, but fills in the gap between the galaxy-spanning stories. It's a change of pace to see the Guardians focus on themselves and make the entire crux of the narrative be something inherently personal. Kidnapping Kevin Bacon as a gift to Peter Quill is heartwarming, hilarious, and relatively mundane, all things considered. 

If "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is the last time we see this version of the superhero team, it's only fitting we got a chance to spend some stress-free time with them beforehand — especially since Gunn is probably going to make us cry for much, much sadder reasons next time around. For now, we can bask in the whimsical story that pays homage to other holiday specials while raising the bar. Holiday season or not, it's a ride well worth taking. 

"The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" is available to stream on Disney+.