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The public’s known that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on the way since shortly after Vol. 2 was released in 2017, but last year brought the big announcement that filmmaker James Gunn is writing and directing The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special for Disney+. And don’t go thinking that this will be a standalone adventure where Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Nebula and Mantis learn the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, that could happen, but Gunn has clarified that watching the Holiday Special will be necessary before seeing Vol. 3.
While promoting his latest movie, DC’s The Suicide Squad, James Gunn informed Collider that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will shoot this November in Georgia, at the same time as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with many of the same sets from the threequel being used for this side story. As for what fans need to know going into the Holiday Special, Gunn said the following:
It’s in-canon, it’s about the Guardians, you’re gonna learn stuff that you need to learn before Volume 3, and it’s great I’m really happy with it.
Back in April, James Gunn confirmed that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special would be set after Thor: Love and Thunder, but before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. So work off just that tidbit of information, it would have been easy to surmise that Vol. 3 could at least contain a few references to the Holiday Special. But with the way Gunn’s talking now, you’ll want to make sure your Disney+ subscription is still active (or use this link to sign up if you’re not already) when the Holiday Special drops in December 2022, as whatever happens there will be important to fully understanding Vol. 3.
James Gunn didn’t divulge any specific plot details about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special but he did note that it will be under 40 minutes in length. This festive MCU tale will precede Vol. 3 by five months and is the second Guardians of the Galaxy-related project in development for Disney+. There’s also a series of I Am Groot animated shorts on the way starring the talking tree in his Baby Groot form.
As far as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 goes, it’s also basically a huge question mark at this point. When we last left off with these characters at the end of Avengers: Endgame, they were departing Earth with Thor, and Peter Quill was specifically interested in finding the time-displaced Gamora. While the Guardians will have some role to play in next year’s Thor: Love and Thunder, it doesn’t sound like they’ll be in the movie that long, meaning the Holiday Special and Vol. 3 will be the next time they’re properly spotlighted. Gunn has also said on multiple occasions that Vol. 3 will be his final Guardians movie, although that’s not to say that certain members of the team couldn’t keep appearing in the MCU under a different filmmaker’s guiding hand.
We’ll let you know when The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special gets a specific release date, but you can already mark Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on your calendar for May 5, 2023. You’re also welcome to peruse our upcoming Marvel movies guide to discover what else the MCU is sending to theaters.