As an outlaw, Yondu was feared across the cosmos. But he had a soft side, too.
In The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, writer and director James Gunn returns to the franchise to bring Christmas cheer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the 40-minute Disney+ show, Gunn uses the season of giving to give fans minor but impactful origin stories behind Yondu and Star-Lord’s most prized possessions. Minor spoilers ahead.
While fans think the special contains a cross-brand promotion for The Mandalorian, it’s actually a deep-cut Easter egg to the earlier Guardians of the Galaxy movies that further grounds the complicated relationship between Star-Lord and Yondu.
In the Holiday Special, the Guardians zip over to Earth to kidnap Kevin Bacon as a gift for Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). Even now, Star-Lord feels blue over his beloved Gamora, who’s been missing since Avengers: Endgame.
The special contains a few animated flashbacks to Star-Lord’s first Christmas in space. While the abusive Yondu forbade Star-Lord from celebrating, the two eventually reconcile and give each other their most precious belongings. Yondu gifted Star-Lord his blasters, which he’s used throughout the MCU, while Yondu received a goofy alien toy. Like your cousin’s first Funko, the gift kickstarted Yondu’s eccentric collection of alien figurines, and he was buried with them at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
It’s been five years since Vol. 2, so fans may have forgotten all about Yondu’s plastic treasures. In fact, one fan on Twitter thought Star-Lord gave Yondu a Grogu toy, but James Gunn responded to clarify that the toy that kickstarted Yondu’s collection has nothing to do with Star Wars.
The Guardians franchise has made it clear that Star-Lord and Yondu have a complex and troubled relationship. Yondu was Star-Lord’s kidnapper; he may have been hired by Star-Lord’s father, Ego (Kurt Russell), to find him, but knowing Ego’s true intentions, Yondu chose to keep Star-Lord and raise him as his own. His rough edges and dangerous lifestyle shaped Star-Lord, for better and worse.
Still, Star-Lord needed a father figure, and Yondu was the one he got. They may not have loved each other, but they still had each other, and for Star-Lord, that’s what mattered. When Star-Lord explains the practice of giving gifts to Yondu, he says it’s “a sign of appreciation.” As Yondu grew his collection, he did more than appreciate it.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming on Disney+.