Over 43 years ago, the Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS. While it included such history-making moments as the first on-screen appearance of Boba Fett, a singing Princess Leia, and the first appearance of Chewbacca’s family, the special wasn’t particularly well received. Regardless, James Gunn has a lot of love for the flawed special, and it helped inspire the upcoming The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special set to premiere later this year on Disney+. Unfortunately, the writer/director shared some discouraging news this week. Cameras are already supposed to be rolling on the special, but so far it hasn’t happened.
Gunn shared the bad news with Collider while talking about HBO Max’s Peacemaker. He said that while The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was supposed to start filming earlier in January, it’s been delayed by, predictably, the Omicron variant of COVID. “We were supposed to shoot one day in LA, and there’s too much Omicron around, so we couldn’t do it,” Gunn explained. “We’re going to have to fit it in.”
In spite of the delay, James Gunn doesn’t seem discouraged. In fact, the concept and script have been so well received, he said he’s had a surprising reaction to the praise. “I’m almost jealous of it, even though I wrote it,” Gunn told Collider. “Because people freak out so much on how much they love the script for the holiday special that I’m almost like, ‘Well, wait. I’ve got [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3] I’ve been working on for two years. You love the holiday special that I literally wrote in a very short amount of time.'”
To be fair, while Gunn says he wrote The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in “a very short amount of time,” he’s also mentioned in the past that the concept had been in the back of his mind for much longer. Gunn said he wrote the treatment for the special “years ago.” Likewise, when Disney publicly announced the special, Gunn tweeted he had “bugged” Kevin Feige “endlessly” about it over the years.
There aren’t a lot of specific details known about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, however James Gunn has said it will be canonical to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The events will be set between those of the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder and 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Beyond viewers being encouraged to expect “spirited shenanigans” from the team of heroes, according to Marvel, little is known of the plot.
The special likely isn’t expected by many to be the most earth-shattering in terms of MCU narrative shake-ups, but one interesting thing to note is that Marvel confirmed in November 2021 that Zoe Saldaña will appear as Gamora in the special, in spite of her character dying in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, and the version of her from the past leaving the Guardians behind in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. While there could be another explanation — e.g. a flashback, or separate narratives — it suggests the team won’t have to wait until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to reunite with Gamora, but will instead bring her back into the fold as early as Thor: Love and Thunder.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is scheduled to stream on Disney+ in December of this year. The special will be written and directed by James Gunn. It stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, and Sean Gunn. It’s also expected to include the voice work of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.