Bells are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special set to land Disney Plus still this year. While the news was announced earlier this year, we only now have a trailer to help set expectations for the lighthearted feature, and it’s a doozy.
Marvel is clearly leaning towards the sillier aspects of its intergalactic crew, with a Christmas special that sees Drax and Mantis team up to visit Earth and kidnap an Earth celebrity as a surprise gift for Starlord.
The celebrity is, of course, Kevin Bacon.
Bacon is a wonderful choice, as the star of the classic ’80s film Footloose – which Pratt’s character cites in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film – and a much-loved part of the Hollywood landscape.
It feels like a fun adventure with the Guardians, and just the kind of silliness we need between denser MCU topics like the arrival of Quantumania, which got its own more ominous trailer on the same day. Marvel seems interested in releasing shorter ‘features’ like this in the future, without the long episode count of a dedicated TV series or the distribution headache of a theatrical release. Supposedly, the Silver Surfer will receive something similar.
It’s also lovely to see more time devoted to Drax and Mantis, two supporting characters in the main films who usually lag behind Peter Quill but have a hilarious dynamic between them – one incredibly literal warrior with few social skills, the other a super-powered empath who, however, it is very naive. More of them please!
But more importantly, this Guardians of the Galaxy special is just the latest in a long line of Christmas kidnappings in the movies — a surprisingly common trope that appears in holiday movies from decades ago.
Who can forget Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Halloween-Christmas genre mashup that sees a talking skeleton kidnapping Santa himself? Or the Will Ferrel comedy Elf, in which a baby is accidentally stolen from his home and accepted to live as a Christmas elf at the North Pole until he grows up?
Horror movies like 2015’s Krampus — rooted in Alpine folklore of a horned devil figure who punishes misbehaving children — depict malicious gingerbread men and elves kidnapping family members from their home. Holiday in Handcuffs, meanwhile, is a 2007 comedy in which a waitress kidnaps a customer to take him home for Christmas to meet her parents. And Die Hard uses the festive season for something more akin to hostage situations, where people are kept indoors against their will, so we’re still counting as a kidnapping movie.
But why is this narrative seen over and over again? As a festival of giving, turning Christmas into a time of theft, kidnapping, taking, effectively turns the premise upside down, inverting our expectations of the holiday. And it’s exciting to see Marvel continue that proud tradition.
At the very least, Kevin Bacon should be a truly fun addition to the MCU. If Marvel decides to put him in more of their movies, we’re absolutely fine with that.