MCU Timeline Breakdown – The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Find a transcription of this video below:

How’s it going, guys and geeks, welcome to Geekritique. My name is Dakota. Today we’ll be doing a complete timeline breakdown of the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This film is simple enough to place on our MCU Timeline, but what does that mean for the Guardians moving forward, and what does that tell us about other titles that are already on our timeline? In this video we’ll also be shifting around another film, as well as clarifying the placement of others, so stick around for all the latest in MCU Timeline news. As always, if you enjoy my content and want to see it succeed, please click that like button and subscribe for more. It really helps me out. Speaking of which, we’ve just hit 35,000 subscribers, so thank you.

By itself, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special isn’t the easiest title to place. For instance, there aren’t any dates featured throughout its 41 minute runtime, and much of the posters or billboards featured around Hollywood Boulevard are remnants of the times they filmed in early 2022. That said, it’s clear the Special covers at least a day or two before Christmas, and a portion of Christmas Day itself. “Anyways, I just saw on the multi-calendar that right now on earth it’s almost Christmastime.” The real challenge is determining the year this Christmas falls on. James Gunn doesn’t even know the year this special occurs in. Of course, there are certain context clues we can use to narrow down a timeframe. We know some time has passed for Kingo to have been returned to Earth after being abducted by the Celestial Arishem, circa late-2023, as he’s featured in two new films, Haxan 3: Haxaner, and Kingo’s Xristmas. That presumably leaves this film to occur in either 2024, or 2025.

It could be later than that, say in 2026, but based on this tweet from director James Gunn, it seems unlikely that this Special Presentation occurred any later than 2025. We’ve quoted this tweet in a previous video, but it’s worth bringing up again. He finds it difficult to believe that Thor spent two years with the Guardians of the Galaxy (as the Disney+ MCU Timeline would have you believe), considering the third Guardians film occurs within a couple years of Endgame, and some significant time has elapsed between Thor: Love and Thunder and the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

We know that significant time has elapsed between the two titles, because the rough age and appearance of Groot is significantly changed. Previously, the Groot showcased in Avengers: Endgame and Thor: Love and Thunder was known as adolescent Groot. Now, according to James Gunn himself, this Groot is colloquially known as YA (or young adult) Groot, or Swole Groot. Upon first viewing, I was convinced this was an opportunity for the Marvel Studios team to stick Vin Diesel in a practical Groot costume, because he looks so lifelike, so I wasn’t sure how accurately this bodily change could measure time elapsed between projects. But Gunn later clarified that this Groot is an entirely CGI creation, meaning Groot is now the best distinguishing factor there is as far as how much time has elapsed since Thor: Love and Thunder. So how much time has actually passed? Well, it’s more than just a few months.

Disney+’s MCU Timeline is a great tool. It’s not always accurate, but it’s a solid barometer for us to compare our timeline with. Occasionally they get it spot on. For instance, I agree with their placement of The Guardians Holiday Special, as they place it in Christmas 2025. That said, I heavily disagree with their Thor: Love and Thunder placement of Fall 2025. This leaves Groot only a few months to age from Adolescent Groot to Swole Groot. Using in-film dates and working backwards we previously reasoned that Thor: Love and Thunder occurs in Spring 2024, over a year prior. Using our timeline placement to age Groot up, that gives him about a year and a half to go from adolescent Groot to young adult Groot, which is much more likely than the few months Disney+ allots him to age. Guys, I’m beyond happy to say that the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special confirms that our placement for Thor: Love and Thunder makes the most sense, and I’m more confident than ever that we’ve placed it correctly.

Now, a lot has happened to the Guardians of the Galaxy since they left Thor in Love and Thunder. Again, likely too much has happened to the Guardians to fit succinctly within the few months suggested by the Disney+ timeline. For instance, the Guardians now pilot a new ship called the Bowie, which replaces the ship they used in Love and Thunder, the Benatar. Not only that, but the Guardians financial situation has drastically changed from the last time we saw them. They’ve bought the entirety of Knowhere from Taneleer Tivan. “Ever since buying Knowhere from the Collector, we don’t have time for trivialities like Christmas.” A lot must have happened to the Guardians since their last appearance for them to be able to afford the severed head of a dead Celestial. We know that in 2018, Thanos destroyed much of Knowhere, rendering it unlivable, so they likely bought it for a significant bargain, but still that can’t be cheap. Now they’re hard at work turning Knowhere into a base of operations, no longer using the Quadrant as their hub like they appeared to do in I Am Groot. “This place needs a lot of fixing up before it’s livable.”

To hammer down the point that their situation has changed, notice what Rocket says about Peter. “What better gift for the guy who has everything than an actual human living person.” Rocket claims Peter has everything, or at least everything a guy like him could want. But that isn’t the case. Peter’s just filling the hole inside him with stuff. What his friends assume is a depression brought on by homesickness or a lack of holiday cheer is really quite a bit more simple. What he really yearns for is Gamora by his side. “He’s so sad about Gamora being gone.” Perhaps Peter and the Guardians have been buying all that they’ve bought with Knowhere and their new ship in the hopes they can win Gamora over with all the stuff they’ve acquired. I can only guess at this stage, but that seems likely based on what little we know of the Guardians recent purchases.

One of the more charming aspects of the Special was the flashbacks to Peter’s childhood aboard the Ravager ship, the Eclector. He taught Kraglin everything he knew about Christmas, which was later relayed to the few remaining inhabitants of Knowhere. This time period is tough to say, but it appears to me that Peter is likely a few years older than he was when he was abducted in 1988, but still an adolescent so I’ll round it out to the early-‘90s, likely Christmastime in 1990. This is probably when Yondu began collecting his little dashboard toys, and it’s when Peter first received his signature Quad Blasters.

And that’s pretty much all there is to the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, in terms of where we can place it on our timeline. We should know for certain once Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is released, but it seems clear to me that this occurs in December 2025.

However this video highlights a much bigger issue in terms of large multi-franchise interconnectivity, in that proper timeline management is important. There must be an active role from the studio or someone behind the scenes working with the teams developing each project to help create a cohesive and ultimately coherent timeline, and from what James Gunn infers in this tweet, they don’t discuss the timeline when crafting new titles. We learned recently that Marvel Studios does indeed have someone in charge of keeping their timeline in order, but if that’s the case, how is it possible that chronologists like myself and others are consistently taking issue with the Disney+ MCU Timeline and its various placements? If they claim a film occurs in one time period, but the film itself and the films that reference it, and the people that create it very explicitly indicate a different time period, something internally isn’t working, or is being overlooked. We as consumers experience time linearly, and we expect the stories we engage with, the stories we care for, to follow linear logic. When that isn’t observed or adhered to, cracks begin forming in the narrative, which inevitably end up as plot holes, which in turn ruins the suspension of disbelief in the audience. This is why I’ve been advocating for and creating sound chronological timeline content for such a long time. We want to get lost in your fictional histories, but we’re removed from them when your timelines aren’t managed properly. So James Gunn, Peter Safran, if you’re watching this and you’re thinking to yourself that your upcoming DC Studios slate of films and shows needs a solid timeline manager, look no further. I’d love to help. And most likely they’re not watching this video, so if you’d be so kind as to share it with James Gunn on Twitter or some other platform, I would greatly appreciate it.

Let’s get back to MCU Timeline news for a bit before we close out this video. You may have noticed that I claimed Eternals occurred in late 2023 earlier in the video, as opposed to the early 2024 period we’ve been suggesting for some time. I’ve received some new information that has me convinced it’s a 2023 film, and I’ll be sure to explore that more in an upcoming video breakdown of Eternals. Disney+ UK has revealed their placement for Spider-Man: Far From Home, shortly after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a decision I agree with. What doesn’t work for me is placing Shang-Chi and Eternals after Far From Home. Again, this is in my opinion poor timeline management. Lastly, I wanted to briefly mention that Disney+ has placed the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special after Werewolf by Night, indicating that they consider Werewolf By Night to occur around Halloween. This is unsurprising as they always deemed it a Halloween special, but I stick by my placement of a late December date for Werewolf By Night. Some of you have brought up Jack Russell’s Dia de Muertos face paint as proof that the special occurs on Halloween, and while I don’t deny that’s solid evidence, I think it can be interpreted in more than one way, especially considering certain comments from director Michael Giacchino. I wrote a whole article on it over at that I’ll link in the description, if you’re interested.

I hope you guys have enjoyed watching this MCU Timeline update. If you did, don’t forget to like and subscribe for more just like it. And as always the new version of our gigantic MCU Timeline image is available to download for our Patreon members. You guys are incredible, and we hope to continue making content you enjoy supporting. I’ve got two really big projects in the works that you guys won’t want to miss. The first is a big surprise video coming mid-December that I never expected to be making, but I’m so excited to reveal to you guys. And the second, scheduled sometime early next year, is going to be… much bigger. I’d like to hear your guesses as to what you think I’m working on in the comments down below! Thanks so much for watching, be sure to check out more videos from the channel right now!

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