Warning: Contains SPOILERS for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special!
James Gunn uses The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special to reveal several important details about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Marvel Studios has continued to use the Guardians of the Galaxy characters in various ways as audiences wait to see how the trilogy ends. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is the latest chance for the team to return. Still, this project is different as it comes from James Gunn and debuted on Disney+ six months before Guardians of the Galaxy 3 releases. The Christmas special focused on Mantis and Drax is a ton of fun, but it is not a throwaway part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Mixed in with the hijinks that unfold as Mantis and Drax kidnap Kevin Bacon, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special includes a few important details to set up James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 story. The Disney+ special takes place before the upcoming sequel but after the Guardians’ appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder. James Gunn confirmed that he used the special to introduce some plot and character details so the threequel does not have to spend time doing so. As a result, there are multiple ways that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special sets up Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Knowhere Is The Team’s New Base In Guardians of the Galaxy 3
One big way that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special sets up Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is that the team has a new base of operation now. The special confirms that Knowhere, the severed head of a Celestial that became a mining colony, is now the Guardians of the Galaxy base. It is revealed that the Guardians purchased Knowhere from The Collector and are in the process of renovating the location in various ways. The development is critical for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, as it finally gives the team a place to call home with access to the Universal Neural Teleportation Network, helping them act quicker against threats.
Knowhere becoming the Guardians of the Galaxy base is an example of the MCU bringing the team even closer to its comic counterpart. The Celestial head has served as the team’s base in the comics after Star-Lord reformed the group. This lineup included Star-Lord, Mantis, Adam Warlock, Phyla-Vell, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Groot, and Gamora. All those characters except Phyla-Vell are confirmed to be in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, with all but Adam Warlock and Gamora calling Knowhere their home during The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
GOTG Holiday Special Sets Up Cosmo Joining The Guardians of the Galaxy
The Guardians of the Galaxy nearly have a new member in Cosmo during The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Audiences were introduced to the Russian space dog in the first movie as she was part of The Collector’s collection. It was previously confirmed that Maria Bakalova was voicing Cosmo in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but she makes her debut in the special with a minor role. Rocket is training Cosmo to try and help her master her telekinesis, which could help the team fight High Evolutionary should she join the Guardians of the Galaxy in the sequel.
The likelihood of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 including Cosmo joining the team opens the door for others to join as well. With Adam Warlock making his MCU debut in the sequel, he and Cosmo could be a few of the new characters who join the existing team. James Gunn has said that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the end of the original iteration of the team, so Cosmo and Adam Warlock (as well as Phyla-Vell and Nova) could factor into the team’s future.
Mantis Being Star-Lord’s Sister Will Impact Guardians of the Galaxy 3
The big reveal in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special that sets up Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is that Mantis is Star-Lord’s sister. Theories about such a reveal have existed since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but Gunn denied that it was true. It is now confirmed in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special that Mantis and Star-Lord are related, as Ego is officially Mantis’ father – explaining why she lived with him. The revelation will surely change the nature of Star-Lord and Mantis’ relationship in Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Star-Lord discovers that Mantis is his sister at a significant time in his life. His life has been filled with loss as his mother died of cancer caused by Ego, while Yondu died saving him from Ego. Peter Quill is also still searching for Gamora after Avengers: Endgame. While he might already view the Guardians of the Galaxy as his family, Star-Lord will likely want to develop a strong relationship with his only known sibling. It should now be expected that this relationship will be prominently featured in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 after Gunn made it so vital to The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Have A New Ship For Vol. 3
The current MCU Phase 4 Guardians of the Galaxy team will also have a new ship in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. As revealed by the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, the team now has a ship named Bowie after David Bowie. It is unknown what happened to the Benatar, which was last seen in Thor: Love and Thunder. It is possible that Guardians sold the ship to help pay for Knowhere, that it was destroyed in an unseen mission, or that the team upgraded to a bigger ship to account for a growing roster. In any case, the Bowie will undoubtedly return in Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
The Holiday Special Teases When GOTG 3 Takes Place In The MCU Timeline
There is also more clarity on when Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will take place in the MCU timeline thanks to The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Since the Christmas adventure takes place after Thor: Love and Thunder and needs to account for Groot’s drastically different look, it is estimated that the special happens in Christmas 2025. It is not yet clear how much time will pass between The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but some sort of time jump is expected.
James Gunn previously said on Twitter that “a couple years” may have passed since Avengers: Endgame, which certainly aligns with what is presented here. If The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special takes place in December 2025, then it has been slightly over two years since the team left Earth with Thor in search of Gamora after Thanos’ defeat. As long as some time passes after the special, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is likely to take place in 2026 in the MCU timeline – which is 12 years after the team’s last solo adventure.