Jingle bells are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special to land on Disney Plus later this year. While the news was announced earlier this year, we’ve only now got a trailer to set expectations for the lighthearted feature, and it’s a doozy.
Marvel is clearly leaning towards the crazier aspects of its intergalactic crew, with a Christmas-themed special where 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 great choice, as the star of that classic ’80s movie Footloose – which Pratt’s character cites in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie – and a much-loved part of the Hollywood landscape.
It seems like a fun affair with the Guardians, and just the kind of nonsense we need in between denser MCU affairs, like the incoming Quantumania, which got its own rather menacing trailer on the same day. Marvel seems eager to release shorter “presentations” like this in the future, without the long episode count of a special TV series or the distribution headache of a theatrical release. Presumably, 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 play second fiddle to Peter Quill, but have a hilarious dynamic between them – one an incredibly literal warrior with evil social skills, the other a super-powerful empath yet 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 figure of speech seen in celebratory movies decades back.
Who can forget Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a mashup of the Halloween Christmas genre in which a talking skeleton kidnaps Santa himself? Or Will Ferrel’s comedy Elf, in which a baby is accidentally stolen from his house and accepted to live as a Christmas elf in the North Pole until they reach adulthood?
Horror films like 2015’s Krampus — rooted in the Alpine folklore of a horned, devilish figure who punishes misbehaving children — see evil gingerbread men and elves kidnap relatives from their homes. Holiday in Handcuffs, meanwhile, is a 2007 comedy in which a waitress kidnaps a customer to take them home for Christmas to meet her parents. And Die Hard uses the holiday season for something more like hostage-taking, where people are held inside against their will, so we still think of it as a kidnapping movie.
But why is this story seen over and over again? As a celebration of giving, Christmas in a time of theft, kidnapping, of taking, effectively turns the premise on its head and inverts our expectations of the holiday. And it’s heartwarming to see Marvel continue that proud tradition.
At the very least, Kevin Bacon should be a really entertaining addition to the MCU. If Marvel decides to get him in more of their movies, we’ll be fine with that.