'The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special' Will Be A Must-Watch Before 'Vol. 3,' James Gunn Says

Who's ready for some Marvel homework? I kid (mostly), but director James Gunn is talking up that wacky-sounding Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and detailing just how important it will be for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans to tune in before they see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

The words "Holiday Special" conjure up very specific images in the minds of fans of a certain age, so perhaps we could be forgiven for assuming that Gunn's previously announced special tying-in to his Guardians movies would be somewhat disposable fun. That's apparently not the case. During an interview with Collider, Gunn briefly expanded on whether it will be integral to the larger MCU:

"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."

Nobody can claim that Gunn doesn't say exactly what he means! But there's still a little bit to parse in these words, as the filmmaker confirms that this will, in fact, take place within the MCU continuity rather than serving as an entertaining one-off along the lines of, say, the upcoming "What If?" series.

Continuity Conundrums

His description that we're going to "learn stuff" could be read a couple different ways, though it's probably not a huge deal either way. Marvel likes to treat its Disney+ series as an absolute must-watch for fans, but so far general audiences could probably skip them completely and still have enough information to make sense of the movies. Similarly, I'd expect this holiday special to shed some subtle layers on the Guardians team and probably even reference past movies/events, but you probably won't be lost when it comes to Vol. 3 if you don't get around to watching it. Think of it as an extra desert topping for those who still have room for it, not necessarily a main course.

Gunn goes on to reveal just when this special will be filmed. As expected, filming for the special will simply take place at the same time (and in the same place) as Vol. 3:

"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."

According to Gunn, the short film will clock in at under 40 minutes. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will release on Disney+ sometime in December 2022.