Jingle bells are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special set to land on Disney Plus later this year. While the news was announced earlier this year, we’ve only now got a trailer to help set expectations for the light-hearted feature, and it’s a doozy.
Marvel is clearly leaning into the sillier aspects of its intergalactic crew, with a Christmas-themed special that sees Drax and Mantis teaming 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 that classic ’80s movie Footloose – which Pratt’s character cites in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film – and a much beloved part of the Hollywood landscape.
It seems like a fun fling with the Guardians, and exactly the kind of nonsense we need between denser MCU affairs, such as the incoming Quantumania, which got its own, rather more menacing trailer on the same day. Marvel seems keen to release shorter ‘presentations’ like this in the future, without the lengthy 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 dedicated to Drax and Mantis, two supporting characters in the main films that usually play second fiddle to Peter Quill, but have a hilarious dynamic between them – one an incredibly literal warrior with poor social skills, the other a superpowered empath who’s nonetheless 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 festive films going decades back.
Who can forget Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Halloween-Christmas genre mashup that sees a talking skeleton kidnap Santa Claus himself? Or Will Ferrel comedy Elf, in which a baby is accidentally stolen from its home and accepted to live as a Christmas elf at the North Pole until they grow up?
Horror movies like 2015’s Krampus – rooted in Alpine folklore of a horned, devilish figure who punishes misbehaving children – see malicious gingerbread men and elves abduct family members from their home. Holiday in Handcuffs, meanwhile, is a 2007 comedy in which a waitress kidnaps a customer to bring them home for Christmas to meet her parents. And Die Hard uses the festive season for something more akin to hostage situations, where people are held inside against their will, so we're still counting it as a kidnap movie.
But why is this narrative seen again and again? As a festival of giving, flipping Christmas into a time of theft, of kidnapping, of taking, effectively turns the premise on its head, reversing 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 truly entertaining addition to the MCU. If Marvel decides to get him in more of their movies, we’re absolutely fine with that.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.