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The skinny on SABER, Nick Fury’s fancy space station that keeps showing up in the MCU

Is it or is it not a sword?

Nick Fury looks out a window framed by metal struts on the SABER space station. He looks frustrated. From a trailer for The Marvels. 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.

The premiere of Marvel’s Secret Invasion series does a lot of talking about something that it never quite shows. No, it’s not the shadowy threat of Skrull invasion — it’s SABER, Nick Fury’s space station that he uses for... You know, it’s not really clear why Nick Fury has a space station.

But what is clear, if you’ve been following along, is that SABER is going to be a part of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s already cropped up in trailers for this fall’s The Marvels, and we got our first look at it in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. SABER is getting around a lot for a MCU thing we know so little about, and it has an analogue in the comics, but only if you squint.

So here’s everything we know about SABER, the next big set piece of the MCU.

[Ed. Note: Mild spoilers for the first episode of Secret Invasion follow.]

What is SABER in the MCU?

Nick Fury walks around barefoot on the deck of SABER in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Image: Sony Pictures

Secret Invasion’s premiere lays out Nick Fury’s new status quo: After getting Blipped in the credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, he returned and absconded to space, aboard the space station SABER, apparently inhabited by friendly Skrulls. Since then, he’s interceded in Earth’s affairs only through Skrull intermediaries — sending Talos to masquerade as himself in order to keep Spider-Man and Mysterio on the up and up in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and sending another agent to recruit Monica Rambeau at the end of WandaVision, and bring her to SABER to meet him. And thanks to the trailer of The Marvels, we know that she makes it there.

OK, but what does SABER do?

It’s unclear, so far! (We don’t even know what it stands for.) After all, Earth already has a new SHIELD-like program defending against alien threats: SWORD. The program was introduced in WandaVision, as a program created by Captain Marvel’s late friend Maria Rambeau, Monica’s mom. But if SABER was a part of SWORD, you wouldn’t think Nick Fury would have to send a secret agent to spirit Monica, an agent of SWORD, up there.

Is there a SABER In Marvel Comics?

A massive space station shaped like a huge spike, pointing down, with two rings around it, hangs in space with the Earth and the Moon behind it. “The Peak,” reads a label, “Headquarters of SWORD. Orbiting Earth.” in Secret Invasion (2008). Image: Marvel Comics

Yes and no.

There is a SWORD in Marvel Comics, and that program has its own kind-of-sword-shaped space station, but it’s called the Peak, not SABER. In the comics, SWORD stands for the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. That is, it is a sister organization to SHIELD, that coordinates Earth’s response to developments on other worlds that are inhabited by sentient beings. (Not worlds that are themselves sentient, although the Marvel Universe has those too.)

So it would seem that SABER’s inclusion in the MCU’s much more grounded retelling of Secret Invasion might just be a red herring, a detail included to keep the show coherent with The Marvels.

Except... that the destruction of the Peak was one of a number of inciting incidents of Secret Invasion in the comics. And if there was already a set for SABER ready and waiting for The Marvels, who’s to say that Secret Invasion couldn’t borrow it for some shooting? Maybe we’ll have to wait for The Marvels to see more of SABER firsthand — but then again, maybe not.

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