“The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” may seem like a one-off, standalone TV special, but for director James Gunn it also provided a way to bridge the second “Guardians” movie with the upcoming “Vol. 3”.

“I used the holiday special as an opportunity to introduce some elements into ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, so I didn’t have to explain them at the beginning of Volume 3,” Gunn explained in an interview with Deadline. “It was a trojan horse.”

“I don’t have to talk about where they got [the new Guardians HQ] Nowhere from, or Cosmo being around Nowhere,” Gunn continued, noting that the special also introduces the Guardians’ new spaceship, The Bowie, from the upcoming movie.

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“I think you see what Nebula’s role is in the group now: She’s a leader to some degree,” he added. “We see all these changes since we’ve seen them last.”

The holiday special was filmed at the same time as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”, which Gunn described as “an insane experience because ‘Vol. 3’ is a serious movie, it deals with these characters’ emotional lives.”

Leaping from that to the silliness of the holiday special, he explained, provided a bit of a break from the “heaviness” of the film. “So shooting that for a few days, and then shooting this goofy thing — these were like my recess days,” said Gunn.

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“The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” is streaming now.