‘It was the night before The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special, and no critic stirred. That’s because the first reviews for the Marvel Studios Special Presentation streaming on Disney+ on Friday have already arrived online. In the spirit of the Star Wars holiday special, writer and director James Gunn tells a Christmas story with celebrity appearances and a musical performance. But instead of Life Day and Wookies, the Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special celebrates the traditions of the Christmas season on Earth with Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and aliens Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
But is the Guardians of the Universe Christmas special a new Christmas classic or a festive flop? With a 90% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, most reviewers seem to agree: The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special is a welcome stocking filler before Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, in theaters May 5, 2023.
ComicBook. com: “The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special gives Marvel Studios a Christmas hit and fans should be very excited to see Disney+. With some very good performances, this is definitely a gift you want under your tree.”
Variety: “There won’t be any coal in James Gunn’s stash this year. His Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is packed with fun, feel-good Christmas cheer, and it’s one of the best pieces of content Marvel Studios has released in years.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “The script is sprinkled with crumbs of awkward (though thankfully easy to ignore) expositions that are sure to become relevant one day [the Guardians] return to theaters in 2023 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. And the whole project is backed by the kind of studio clout and money that allows a Kevin Bacon to show up and hang out with aliens for a few days. And yet it all works, at least if you (like me) are a bit of a sucker for the Guardians to begin with. It’s funny enough to laugh out loud and poignant enough to elicit that telltale twinge behind the eyes, if not enough to cause full tears. Maybe it lacks the weight of a real one Guards feature film or series, but it’s just the holiday treat you want from this motley bunch: shiny, fuzzy, and just weird enough to feel personal.”
Rolling stone: “What you get is more or less what you’d imagine a Gunn and the Guardians holiday special would be. Even the special’s soundtrack is on-brand… Of course, you’ll miss Pratt’s minimal contributions if you blink , and the little bits with Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon, Vin Diesel’s gruff teen Groot, and Maria Baklova’s Cosmos the Telepathic Soviet Spacedog feel more like contractual contributions than anything else… shooting lasers from his eyes, then it looks like your Christmas this year came early.”
The edge: “It’s a goofy Christmas caper, but the special also feels like a prologue to the next Guardians movie. Now, to be fair, it’s at least a pleasure addition to the MCU. The special is less than an hour long and is basically a feel-good Christmas story with some sci-fi shenanigans thrown in.
The Indian Express: Somewhat boldly, Gunn has drawn comparisons between the Guards special and famous Star Wars holiday special from 1978, which even after all these years is still one of the most infamous pop culture artifacts ever created. But Gunn hasn’t limited his tribute to just a hat tip towards Chewbacca; he went ahead and booked the Guardians special with animated sequences designed to recreate similar scenes in it Star Wars counterpart… However, despite the unfavorable overlaps, Gunn’s film doesn’t undercut the main feed, nor does it smack of money-making. On the contrary, it’s a delightful distraction from the greater machinations of the MCU.”
Dexerto: “The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special is a warm, heartfelt hug from the MCU and the perfect gift the franchise could give: a reminder of what makes this team so beloved.”
/Movie: “We’re stuck with rather predictable humor and not one but two different lengthy musical numbers that play more as time fillers than anything else. But the mood remains light-hearted, and those looking for sugary sweet treats in the form of entertainment will likely enjoy to have “. At the very least, the special will no longer be welcome. In fact, that’s part of the problem – it’s so fast and breezy you want more. There’s no food here, just empty calories. This ultimately feels like something someone can put in the background while they decorate their Christmas tree. Happy holidays, I guess!”
Midwest Newsreel: “The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special takes a group of familiar characters on a fun, low-stakes adventure that gives them room to grow while having fun with the freedom of theatrical expectations. It reminds you why Guardians of the Universe and the sequel are still so loved nearly a decade after the characters debuted and are laying an emotional foundation for next year Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. At its core, though, it’s mostly just a delightful piece of Christmas programming.”
See our viewers guide for everything you need to know about watching the Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Featurette reveals when James Gunn pitched the idea
- Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special confirms DC exists (again) in the MCU
- Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special now streaming on Disney+
- Guardians of the Galaxy Special Trailer Revealed
- James Gunn debunks Silver Surfer’s debut in Guardians Holiday Special