Oh, how I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special! Christmas is my favourite time of year, and the Guardians are some of my favourite characters in the MCU. Seems like a great combo on paper. Thankfully, it’s a great combo on screen as well. James Gunn makes his triumphant return to Marvel Studios after 5 long years, and he did not disappoint. Thanks to a strong cast, hilarious hijinks and a heartwarming message, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is easily one of the MCU’s most fun and enjoyable projects.

The cast, as always, is fantastic. Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Maria Bakalova, Karen Gillian, Sean Gunn, and Dave Bautista are all great in their roles. They didn’t miss a beat since Vol. 2 and the introduction of newcomer Bakalova as Cosmo the Dog is a welcome addition. However, it is Pom Klementieff that steals the show. This is the most we’ve seen of Mantis and we get the opportunity to learn a lot about her character in this movie. Mantis is the heart and soul of this special and Klementieff shows off her excellent comedy chops in her time in the spotlight.

Another treat for audiences in this movie is watching Kevin Bacon’s debut in the MCU. Bacon plays himself and his performance is great and hits especially hard when he realizes how much he means to Quill. I’m bummed because this means Bacon can’t play someone else in the MCU in the future, but the truth is he was awesome playing himself and I wouldn’t be shocked if we see him again in Vol. 3.

From a production standpoint, this is one of the best for a Disney+ Marvel project. The Nowhere set is very practical and even the CG characters like Cosmo and Groot fit into the aesthetic of the project seamlessly. I especially enjoyed how everything was “Christmas-fied”. It made the whole set shine and pop and as a Christmas enthusiast, I appreciated that.

Gunn wisely uses this project as a jumping-off point for Vol. 3 by setting up some storylines in advance, but it is also a movie about love. The main theme is all about doing what you can to show your loved ones how much you care about them…even if it’s at the expense of Kevin Bacon. It’s a very sweet sentiment that further solidifies the group of misfits that is the Guardians of the Galaxy, as a real family.

Overall, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a real treat for Marvel fans and Christmas enthusiasts alike. This is one you don’t want to miss and I really think it will become a quintessential Christmas movie to be watched over and over in years to come.