S.W.O.R.D.: Everything You Need To Know About The Marvel Comics Group And How It May Connect To The MCU

Just when you thought that Marvel’s upcoming TV show spin-off starring Elizabeth Olsen and a resurrected Paul Bettany could not possibly have anymore Easter Eggs to tease audiences with, prepare for one reality-shattering reveal. Comic book aficionados have spent years now anxiously searching for clues as to how and when the MCU will introduce an organization known as S.W.O.R.D. into its continuity and subtle hints in its recent promotional material prove that WandaVision is where it could finally make its official debut.

This is just the most recent of several exciting revelations surrounding the Disney+ exclusive series (likely premiering on the digital platform sometime in December 2020) which have not only provided deeper insight into its mysterious plot, but also what stories it may set up for forthcoming big screen installments. Last month, eagle-eyed fans managed to pick up on a sly hint in its first full-length trailer that WandaVision will take inspiration from the iconic 2005 Marvel Comics event House of M. The same TV spot, along with leaked behind-the-scenes images featuring its logo, provided just enough clues to suggest S.W.O.R.D. may also be involved in the story.

The questions that still remain are how exactly will it be involved, what would its newfound presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mean for the future of the franchise, and (for some, at least), just what the hell is S.W.O.R.D. anyway? Allow us to put your mind at ease with all the basics you will need to know in preparation for WandaVision (and beyond) with these five essential facts, complemented by a speculative analysis of its potential ties to Phase 4. Well, start off by getting to the right point.

A skrull from Captain Marvel

S.W.O.R.D. Monitors And Defends Earth From Alien Threats

Standing for “Sentient World Observation Response Department,” S.W.O.R.D. is sort of like Marvel’s own Men in Black (which, ironically, is also a property of the comic book publisher), described more specifically as a counterterrorism and intelligence organization that specializes in keeping tabs on suspicious extraterrestrial activity to ensure worldwide protection. The agency is actually the brainchild of Joss Whedon, writer and director of the first two Avengers and co-creator of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with artist John Cassaday, and made its first appearance in the September 2004 issue of Astonishing X-Men.

One of the organizations’s most notorious enemies is the shapeshifting alien race known as Skrulls, who were reinvented as victims of a grave misunderstanding when they made their official MCU debut in 2019’s Captain Marvel. They would show up again in another film later that year, providing what many perceived to be a crucial hint to S.W.O.R.D’s. involvement in the franchise.

S.W.O.R.D. headquarters, the Peak

A Satellite Called The Peak Serves As S.W.O.R.D.’s Base Of Operations

In the astonishing post-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are revealed to have actually been Skrulls for the entire film. Meanwhile, the real Fury was leading a crew of the green beings on a space station that may have looked somewhat familiar to followers of S.W.O.R.D. from the comics.

The organization’s headquarters is located in a satellite closely the Earth called The Peak, which may have been the same craft Nick Fury was on - leading us question if the upcoming Disney+ series led by the former S.H.I.E.L.D. director will chronicle his rise as the new (or first) leader of S.W.O.R.D. That would be a particularly fascinating reinterpretation since the now defunct agency was initially depicted as a sub-unit of S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention Fury was known to have a pretty strained relationship with its original director.

S.W.O.R.D. director Abigail Brand

The Director Of S.W.O.R.D. Is A Mutant With Close X-Men Ties

The Marvel Comics debut of S.W.O.R.D. also saw the introduction of Abigail Brand, who was appointed to be the head of the organization based on her strong combative capabilities and a certain level of expertise in otherworldly beings that few other members could claim. In addition to being a pyrokinetic after inheriting the X-Gene from her mother, her father was an extraterrestrial, making her a unique mutant/alien hybrid that would also earn her a spot alongside the X-Men, despite a heated association with them, as well.

Therein lies yet another potential clue to S.W.O.R.D.’s MCU connections, as well as a possible explanation for why its debut has taken this long, based on our prior knowledge of WandaVision’s references to the X-Men heavy House of M storyline. This has sparked speculation that the mutant team could make an appearance of some sort in the series and, if so, bring its association with S.W.O.R.D. full circle in the franchise, as well as becoming the best thing to come out of the Disney/Fox merger… hopefully. Of course, if that theory proves unsatisfactory, the X-Men are not the only Marvel characters whom Abigail Brand has close ties with.

Carol Danvers, Abigail Brand, and Henry Gyrich on The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

Captain Marvel Is A S.W.O.R.D. Agent On The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

The ending of S.W.O.R.D. led Abigail Brand to join the space program Alpha Flight under the command of Carol Danvers, who is actually an agent of S.W.O.R.D. on the animated series The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. While I have my doubts that either of these interpretations would be recycled for the MCU, I can see Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) at least being a crucial element to explaining S.W.O.R.D.’s connection to continuity given her previous experience with them.

If the connection is not made directly through Carol Danvers, we know that her unofficial niece, Monica Rambeau, has insight on the Skrulls and also know that she will be a major character of WandaVision, as portrayed by Teyonah Parris. If speculation that the character, who also fights evil under the name Spectrum in the comics, is working as an agent for S.W.O.R.D. in this new series, that would be a great way to further the shapeshifting aliens’ involvement in the story, possibly leading us closer to an adaptation of yet another celebrated Marvel arc.

Cover art for Marvel's Secret Invasion event

S.W.O.R.D. Is Pivotal To Marvel’s Secret Invasion Storyline

Among all of the other clues and special details we have covered in relation to the Skrulls, the one thing fans were most excited for upon their inclusion in Captain Marvel was the potential for the Secret Invasion to become the MCU’s next major focus following the conclusion of the Infinity Saga with Avengers: Endgame. The massively popular 2008 crossover event, in which many Marvel characters are discovered to have been replaced by Skrulls, is also one of the most important stories in S.W.O.R.D.’s legacy.

After experiencing firsthand the manipulative nature of this shapeshifting power in the aforementioned Spider-Man: Far From Home post-credits scene, fans began to wonder who else in the MCU could also be a Skrull in disguise in preparation for the moment when this invasion begins to take effect and with S.W.O.R.D.’s upcoming involvement in WandaVision, it could be closer than we may have expected. Of course, it may be a drastic departure from the source material given the Skrulls’ reinterpretation as allies, but who says that is not just part of their plan?

What do you think? Are you hopeful to see S.W.O.R.D. on the big (and small screen) or do you fear how strongly its MCU adaptation may differ from the beloved comics? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on what is next for Marvel, as well as even more inside looks into the legacies of your favorite comic book characters, here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.