Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Everything You Need to Know From the Holiday Special

It’s not often a major film franchise actually uses a holiday special to advance its stories in any kind of meaningful way, but James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t your ordinary film franchise. The brightly colored, needle-dropping sci-fi trilogy is wrapping up with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 this weekend, bringing to a close the story of Peter Quill, Rocket, Gamora, Drax, and Groot. The tale of those characters stretched into both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, so fans know to check those out before seeing Guardians 3. What some may not realize, however, is that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is just as important as those other movies.

If you skipped out on the Holiday Special because you didn’t think it would matter for the rest of the story, or because you’re just not that into the holidays, you may want to do a little brushing up before watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In addition to being a lovely little Christmas comedy with Kevin Bacon, the Guardians Holiday Special also connects some dots and makes some important reveals that will be important for the final movie. If you don’t have time to go watch the Disney+ special, we’ll do our best to fill you in here.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special takes place on Knowhere, the city/planet made out of the head of a dead celestial that was once home to the Collector’s Museum. We learn at the start of the special that the Guardians have taken control of Knowhere, making it a safe place for travelers and a base of operations for their adventures. With Knowhere also came Cosmo, the telepathic Russian dog that we saw escaping the Collector back in the first Guardians movie. Cosmo was introduced as a real character in the Holiday Special, and she’s become an important part of the team.

Peter is still sad over the alternate Gamora, who is still missing, which is the same in the Holiday Special as it was in Thor: Love and Thunder (definitely not an essential watch for the story of the Guardians). His sadness about Gamora, however, provides the reason for the major reveal of the special, one that is crucial for understanding the Guardians going into Vol. 3.

Mantis knows Peter is sad and wants to cheer him up for Christmas. Their friendship is strong, but the reason she cares so much about him is that they are actually siblings. Mantis reveals to Peter in the special that she was also a child of Ego, meaning they share the same biological father. That news will obviously change a lot about their dynamic moving forward.

The only other thing you might have missed in the Holiday Special is the fact that Groot is swole now. He’s been different in each of the movies so it shouldn’t be too surprising that he’s grown since the last time we saw him.

Excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Check out some of the great pieces from our ComicBook CRAM about everyone’s favorite Marvel space family.