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What to know about SWORD, Marvel’s SHIELD for a new MCU era

They say the pen is mightier but maybe not in this case

Monica Rambeau reaches out to the energy field around Westview, with Agent Jimmy Woo in the background in WandaVision. Image: Marvel Studios
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

WandaVision episode 4 took its first big steps away from the warped sitcom life this week, with big new developments in the strata of the modern Marvel movie setting.

In particular we got a look at what — in the comics — is one of the Marvel Universe’s most out-of-this-world secret organizations. And it just might connect to the future of Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, and the Skrull empire.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for WandaVision through episode 4.]

Wanda picks up a helicopter with the SWORD symbol on it in WandaVision Image: Marvel Studios

WandaVision’s strongest hint at the existence of SWORD came in its third episode, where it spent much more time with the character of Geraldine as she befriended Wanda and helped deliver her twin sons. But other members of Westview comment that Geraldine is strange, and new to town. She’s unlike other citizens in one other way as well. So far she is the only one who seems to have memories of Wanda’s life as an Avenger.

Geraldine tells Wanda that she remembers when Ultron killed her brother Pietro, and Wanda becomes agitated and suspicious. We don’t see exactly what happens next, but the next time we see Geraldine, she’s ejected through a shimmering barrier surrounding Westview, as gun-toting, uniformed people surround her.

One of the things Wanda becomes suspicious of is Geraldine’s pendant, a teardrop with an upraised sword in it.

Geradline’s sword pendant in WandaVision Image: Marvel Studios

The mixture of sword imagery and a shadowy military group points in one direction for Marvel Comics fans: SWORD.

WandaVision’s fourth episode “We Interrupt This Program,” steps outside of Westview to show us the almost immediate response of SWORD, the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Department, to the disappearance of Westview, a small (fake) town in New Jersey.

Founded by Maria Rambeau, a close friend of Captain Marvel’s who first appeared in Captain Marvel, SWORD is apparently a government agency dedicated to detecting and dealing with extraterrestrial threats to earth, which makes you wonder where exactly they were when Thanos showed up in Avengers: Infinity War — but maybe WandaVision has plans to address that. For now, let’s talk about SWORD in the original Marvel Comics.

What is SWORD?

First, SWORD’s acronym is a bit different in the comics: the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. In other words, it’s a counterpart to SHIELD that focuses on extra-terrestrial goings on, just like in the show.

The profile of SWORD does not loom as large as SHIELD’s in Marvel Comics history, though it did have a significant role to play in arcs like Secret Invasion, which just happens to be one of Marvel’s upcoming Disney Plus exclusive series.

Also, right now in the comics, SWORD has evolved into the space exploration and diplomacy arm of the mutant government of Krakoa. That’s such a recent development that it shouldn’t be expected that it’ll have any connection to WandaVision, even if Wanda and her brother Pietro used to be mutants in the comics. But it is cool.

SWORD, beyond WandaVision

Nick Fury in spaaaaace in Spider-Man: Far From Home post-credit teaser scene
Nick Fury in spaaaaace in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Image: Marvel Studios

There are many indications that we’ll see more of SWORD beyond WandaVision.

Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau, who we now know is a major player in SWORD, is set to reprise her role in Captain Marvel 2. And Monica could also have kept in touch with Nick Fury since Captain Marvel. The last we saw of SHIELD’s slipperiest agent in Spider-Man: Far From Home, he was in deep space on a Skrull ship. Samuel Jackson will eventually return to the role for Secret Invasion, and Parris will be seen again in the un-subtitled Captain Marvel 2. It’s possible, as is the Marvel way, that WandaVision lays the foundation for both future installments of the MCU.

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