Yondu may have died in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but he was able to make an appearance in the GOTG Holiday Special. Though the sequence was animated, Michael Rooker actually came back to shoot the scene himself.
This was shared by director James Gunn on Twitter:
For the #GuardiansoftheGalaxyHolidaySpecial, we used old-school rotoscoping animation in the style of the Ralph Bakshi films I liked growing up – and to give us that 1970’s & ‘80’s nostalgic Christmas Special feel. pic.twitter.com/udYmYGpHvV
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) November 29, 2022
Though they didn’t have to paint Rooker blue for the part anymore, we do get to see that he had to wear his costume from the Guardians films. Opposite Rooker is Luke Klein, whose face was altered during the animation to make it look closer to the young Quill we see in the films.
Some fans had also thought that the toy we see Rooker hold is a reference to Grogu from The Mandalorian, but Gunn confirms that it was one of the toys on Yondu’s console years before anyone conceptualized Grogu for Mando.
I have to admit, though the Holiday Special for Guardians was a clear riff at the Star Wars Holiday Special, I wasn’t expecting Gunn to add an animated sequence as well. It was a pretty nice touch, and it was a great way to have Yondu in the special without having to break any kind of canon.
I’ll admit, the special got kind of corny at times, but I guess that was the whole point of the special, with the Christmas songs and campy stakes. Rocket does tease another special down the line, but it will probably be coming out after the events of Guardians Vol. 3.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming on HBO Max.