Coming out of Marvel Studios’ marquee panel at San Diego Comic-Con over a week ago, one of the major talking points was the confirmation of the full line-ups of both Phase Four and Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, one project which was curiously omitted from either lineup was the previously announced The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special . Despite Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 holding a major presence at the event, no update on the holiday special was provided.
Director James Gunn took to Twitter to give some updates on the special, including its placement in the MCU timeline. Gunn officially referred to the upcoming holiday special as the “epilogue” to Phase Four.
This bit of news seems obvious on a surface level with the special debuting in the limbo period between Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (the end of Phase Four) and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (the start of Phase Five). Even still, it will be interesting to follow how Marvel Studios officially notates the holiday special. If it never receives an “official” placement in an MCU phase, it could be an omen that these one-off specials aren’t as distinctly canonically tied to the ongoing Multiverse Saga. In theory, this would be in line with how the Marvel Studios Animation wing has seemingly been sectioned off from the ongoing narratives of the live action MCU projects.
However, there is still the possibility that Marvel Studios distinctly withheld The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special from San Diego Comic-Con to instead spend time discussing the project at the D23 festivities in September. This could pair well with the assumed official reveal of Marvel Studios’ Halloween-based special coming later this year. Ultimately though, this subject is likely a continued indicator of the general banality of phase delineation and that people generally overthink the distinct meanings of them beginning and ending.