What exactly is SWORD, and what’s their role in WandaVision?
That’s the question many fans will have following the first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ first Disney+ series, after the mysterious organisation appeared to be monitoring the odd sitcom fantasy Wanda and Vision are trapped in.
Are SWORD friend or foe? How are they different from SHIELD, and what would they want with Wanda and Vision? And what does SWORD stand for anyway?
We delve into the comic-book history of the fictional organisation below, though be warned – it appears the WandaVision version (WandaVersion?) may be a little different…
Has SWORD’s name changed?
While the comic-book version of SWORD (see below) deals with outer-space threats, leaked merchandise has hinted that the MCU version could have a different modus operandi.
You see, while the comic-book SWORD’s name stands for Sentient World Observation and Response Division new trading cards have revealed that the WandaVision version is called Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division.
In other words, they might not be dealing with aliens any more – and we have to wonder whether they’d consider Wanda and Vision as sentient weapons, which could mean the organisation is behind their mysterious imprisonment.
SWORD’s Marvel Comics origin explained
While SHIELD has been a major player in Marvel’s comic book universe since the 1960s, SWORD is an altogether more recent creation, debuting in 2004 during an X-Men run by Joss Whedon (who went on to direct 2012’s The Avengers and its sequel).
The distinction between the two organisations is actually quite simple: SHIELD may have an international focus but it generally sticks to tackling Earth-based threats, while SWORD has a galactic approach that includes facing off against extraterrestrial foes.
It’s hardly a surprise that SWORD would rear its head at this point in the MCU timeline, given that The Avengers movies have proven to the world not only that aliens do exist, but also that some of them are rather nasty indeed (looking at you, Thanos).
The existence of SWORD in the MCU was first hinted at in Spider-Man: Far From Home’s post-credits scene, which revealed that Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury has been spending time on board an advanced space station.
It’s possible that this could be The Peak, the galactic headquarters of SWORD which acts as a hub for most of its operations – think the SHIELD helicarrier but arguably even more dangerous.
How is SWORD linked to SHIELD?
SWORD usually operates independently in the comic books, with many of its missions and agents confidential even to high-ranking SHIELD agents.
Relations between the two organisations have been difficult at certain points since they separated, but ultimately they are fighting for the same side.
Who is the director of SWORD?
Nick Fury made his mark on the MCU as director of SHIELD and it appears we can expect to meet his SWORD counterpart in the near future.
Abigail Brand heads up the security agency, an intimidating figure in the Marvel Universe who is half-mutant and half-alien, not to mention instantly recognisable thanks to her bright green hair (which is actually her natural colour).
Brand is the character most commonly associated with SWORD, having consistently been a key member of the organisation since it was first introduced.
The role has not publicly been cast in the MCU and so she may not appear in WandaVision, but if SWORD is here to stay, you can assume that she won’t be far off.
Notably, Abigail Brand was previously owned by 20th Century Fox as part of their deal for the film rights to the X-Men but, following the Disney merger, she can now appear in the MCU.
Given that SWORD first made its debut in an X-Men comic, we can’t rule out that Marvel’s uncanny band of mutants could begin cropping up somewhere within its walls.
Does Nick Fury work for SWORD?
SWORD was first introduced as an offshoot of SHIELD and so naturally, at that point, Nick Fury had some involvement in its operations.
However, since the two organisations have broken apart, the character now has less to do with SWORD-related business, which instead usually involves Brand and members of the X-Men.
That said, given the aforementioned Far From Home post-credits scene, it’s quite possible Fury will be in control of SWORD in the MCU to begin with, before passing over the reins at a later date – perhaps during his Secret Invasion streaming series, as Brand played a significant role in the comic book story.
Want more WandaVision content? Check out our guide to the WandaVision cast, the WandaVision release schedule, Agatha Harkness and the creepy WandaVision commercials. Plus, we ask: is Wanda pregnant? When is WandaVision set and how did Vision survive? Or you can check out our latest WandaVision review.
Marvel’s WandaVision premieres on Disney Plus on Friday 15th January. Fancy watching something else while you wait? Find out the best shows on Disney Plus, the best movies on Disney Plus or visit our TV guide to see what’s on tonight.