Marvel Studios is dropping its second Special Presentation this week as the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special arrives on Disney Plus, reuniting the zany superhero team ahead of their long-awaited third outing next year.
While the title evokes the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978, which is still considered an absolute low point of the franchise to this day, early reviews assure us that history isn't repeating itself.
Critics are raving over the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, saying it successfully captures all the charm and humour of the big-screen movies, while distilling it into a shorter format and low stakes story.
The ludicrous plot sees Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) embark on a mission to Earth to retrieve Kevin Bacon (playing himself), in the hopes it will ignite some Christmas cheer in their friend, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt).
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The special stars the entire Guardians team, including new recruit Cosmo the Space Dog (voiced by Borat's Maria Bakalova), with the exception of Peter's beloved Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who remains missing after the events of Endgame.
James Gunn is back to write and direct the team he made famous, telling RadioTimes.com that this special is the greatest thing he's ever done, while Dave Bautista agreed that the one-off is "absolutely hysterical".
Read on for everything you need to know about the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special release date
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be available to stream on Disney Plus on Friday 25th November 2022 from 8am GMT onwards.
The festive treat was filmed at the same time as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with the combined principal photography on both projects running from November 2021 to May 2022.
It is a one-off Special Presentation, the second of its kind after October's Werewolf by Night.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special cast
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will reunite most of the cast of the Marvel movies, led by Chris Pratt as self-described "legendary outlaw" Peter Quill or Star-Lord.
The most prominent characters in the special are Drax and Mantis, played by Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff respectively, who have become an unlikely double-act since their first meeting in Guardians Vol 2.
Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel also return to their voice roles of Rocket and Groot, while Doctor Who alum Karen Gillan reprises the role of hardened fighter Nebula alongside Sean Gunn's former ravager Kraglin.
Michael Rooker is also credited to reappear as Yondu in the special, most likely in flashback following the character's tragic demise at the end of Vol 2.
In a fun twist, Kevin Bacon will have a significant role in the Guardians Holiday Special as himself, bringing a running gag from the series to its natural conclusion.
Meanwhile, Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm's breakout star Maria Bakalova joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this entry, lending her voice to fan favourite character Cosmo the Space Dog.
One major absence will be Zoe Saldaña, who is not expected to appear in the special as Gamora's whereabouts remains unknown to the Guardians, but will finally be revealed in the much-anticipated third film.
What is the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special about?
The special takes place between Thor: Love and Thunder, where the Guardians had a brief cameo, and their upcoming third adventure due for cinema release next year.
The story follows Drax and Mantis as they attempt to reignite Peter Quill's love for Christmas by gifting him his childhood hero: Kevin Bacon, star of Footloose and other cinematic masterpieces.
The duo will return to Earth for the first time since the Infinity War and invade the actor's Hollywood home, but will their dastardly plan succeed? Tune in to find out.
In a tweet, writer-director James Gunn described the Guardians Holiday Special as an "epilogue" to Marvel's Phase 4, which concluded with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special trailer
In addition to teasing the Christmas-themed adventure for the Guardians of the Galaxy, the new trailer shows Peter still struggling to cope with Gamora's disappearance in Avengers: Endgame. Watch below:
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special comes out this November on Disney Plus. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year. Check out our Sci-Fi hub or find out what's on with our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.