Eternal Fame

Marvel's Guardians Holiday Special brings back Phase 4’s best running gag

Kevin Bacon isn’t the MCU’s only major movie star.

Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer in Marvel's Guardians of the Galax...

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially ended last week with the release of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The James Gunn-directed Disney+ special serves as an epilogue for Phase 4, one that both sets up plot points for next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and wraps up the MCU’s rockiest era on a surprisingly sweet and sentimental note.

While fans seem to agree that the MCU’s fourth phase was a bit of a mixed bag, that doesn’t mean Marvel has failed to introduce any memorable plot points and characters over the past two years. The Holiday Special, for its part, even manages to bring back one of the MCU’s best running gags.

Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo in Marvel’s Eternals.

Marvel Studios

A Recognizable Face — The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special follows Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) as they journey to Los Angeles in search of Kevin Bacon (Kevin Bacon). During their trip, Drax and Mantis end up in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where posters for a movie starring Kumail Nanjiani’s Kingo can be seen in the background.

Later in the special, while Drax and Mantis are resting on the curb outside a Hollywood bar, a wide shot reveals an easy-to-miss billboard for a movie called Kingo’s Christmas, which further cements Kingo’s unspoken presence and suggests Kingo’s star power may still be on the rise in the MCU.

Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) sit within view of a Kingo-centric billboard in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

Marvel Studios

Kingo’s Fame — In Eternals, it’s revealed that Kingo settled in India after the film’s team split up for several centuries. Eventually, he became a famous Bollywood star and director, and even adopted the identities of his own male “descendants” to explain his inability to age. His movie stardom not only provides Eternals with many of its funniest moments, but the resources his fame provides play an important role in the film’s plot.

Kingo’s fame, and his fake ancestral tree, were referenced several months after Eternals’ release in Ms. Marvel. The second episode features a moment in which two of the show’s characters discuss their favorite Bollywood stars. Kingo is mentioned, as is his “father,” Kingo Sr.

Now, thanks to the Holiday Special, Kingo’s movie star status has been referenced in three MCU projects over the past year.

Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) stand near a Kingo-led movie poster in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — Due to the uncertainty surrounding Eternals 2, there’s no telling when MCU fans can look forward to seeing Nanjiani actually reprise his role as Kingo. Given how Eternals ends, it seems safe to say that it’ll be a while before the superhero-turned-Bollywood star shows up on Earth again.

That said, whenever Kingo does make his triumphant return to Earth, he’ll likely be pleased to learn that he remained an ever-present pop cultural figure. Beyond that, the Holiday Special proved that the MCU hasn’t forgotten about Eternals, and it also shows that Kingo’s growing presence on Earth is one of the few recurring Phase 4 gags that hasn’t grown old yet.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is streaming now on Disney+.

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