The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special isn’t exactly essential viewing for those trying to follow the ongoing narrative of the Guardians in the MCU, but it does sprinkle in a few key changes to be aware of ahead of next May’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Although the bulk of the special follows Mantis and Drax as they head to Earth, it’s bookends take place in a familiar setting from Guardians of the Galaxy that’s now become their base of operations!
Following the special’s animated opening sequence, Nebula reveals that the Guardians now own Knowhere after having bought it from Taneleer Tivan. Knowhere, the severed head of a Celestial floating about in space, was a key location in Guardians of the Galaxy and was visited again by Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and Mantis in Avengers: Infinity War. Tivan had put up shop on Knowhere hundreds of years prior to the Guardians’ first visit and set up a mining operation to extract the valuable organic matter that remained inside the Celestial’s head. Tivan, also known as The Collector, also kept his museum of oddities on Knowhere where he stored the Infinity Stone known as the Aether/Reality Stone and where the Soviet space dog Cosmo was kept until being freed following the explosion of the Power Stone.
During the events of the special, it’s clear that the Guardians have only recently taken ownership of Knowhere and are in the process of cleaning it up following the exit of the Tivan Group. The move to Knowhere puts the Guardians in an interesting location headed into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning introduced Knowhere in 2007’s Nova #8 and it became an important location for both Richard Rider and the Guardians following the events of Annihilation: Conquest. Later, Knowhere became the base of operations for the Annihilators, a team of “cosmic heavy hitters” assembled by Cosmo following the dissolution of the Guardians and the death of Peter Quill.
Director James Gunn has made it clear that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the end of the road for the current iteration of the team, but with them preparing to operate out of Knowhere and Cosmo joining the squad and displaying her telepathic powers in the special, it’s possible that a version of the Annihilators could be making its way into the MCU. The original comic book Annihilators consisted of Silver Surfer, Ikon, Ronan the Accuser, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator and Quasar, so it’s hard to imagine any MCU version of the team being too similar; however, their first mission found them taking on the Cosmic powerhouse Blastaar, a character whose live-action rights were acquired by Marvel Studios when Disney acquired Fox in 2019. Given the knowledge that Nova is headed to the MCU soon, it seems likely that Knowhere could be propped up as a major Cosmic location as Marvel Studios finally expands that corner of its universe.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is streaming now on Disney Plus.