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WandaVision: What Is S.W.O.R.D. In The Marvel Comics?

Contains spoilers for WandaVision

If you kept a weather eye on your screen through WandaVision's first and second episodes, you would have noticed some suspicious details that tie into one another. No, no — not that whatever Mr. Hart was choking on looked like a chocolate-covered strawberry, or that the actress who plays Mrs. Forman from That '70s Show hasn't aged in the last 20 years. We're talking about the fact that, in a handful of instances across WandaVision episodes 1 and 2, a very specific piece of iconography poked its head up: a hilted blade in a circle.

Certified Marvel nerds will have recognized this emblem: It's the logo for S.W.O.R.D., the cloak-and-dagger sister organization to S.H.I.E.L.D. As WandaVision carried on into its third episode, S.W.O.R.D.'s presence continued to loom large — though it was unclear how exactly the organization was involved in Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision's (Paul Bettany) strange suburban world. In WandaVision episode 4, the curtain didn't just get pulled back — it was practically torn to shreds. The episode reveals that Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who had been masquerading inside Westview as Wanda and Vision's neighbor Geraldine, works as a S.W.O.R.D. agent. She was one of the billions of people who were erased in "the Blip" that happened in Avengers: Infinity War, and her first mission back at S.W.O.R.D. is to partner with Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) to investigate Westview, New Jersey ... the site of a missing persons case. 

S.W.O.R.D. swiftly moves into action by constructing an observation base outside Westview, tasking astrophysicist Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Jimmy with monitoring the going-ons of the town and sending Monica in as an agent of infiltration. Despite Darcy and Jimmy's best efforts, they can't get in contact with Wanda via radio. Things go from confusing to alarming when Monica, presumably trying to get Wanda to realize she's living in a fake reality, brings up the fact that Wanda's twin brother Pietro died at the hands of Ultron. Wanda sends Monica flying out of Westview, and when she opens her eyes, surrounded by S.W.O.R.D. agents, Monica tells them that this is all Wanda's doing.

While S.W.O.R.D. might not boast the decades of brand recognition that you get from Nick Fury's favorite nine-to-five, the organization is a natural fit for film and television. In fact, S.W.O.R.D.'s comic book origins are rooted in the same brain that brought the Avengers together on the big screen for the first time. Even more excitingly, their addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe could foreshadow the reintroduction of one of Marvel's most beloved IPs — but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

S.W.O.R.D.'s Marvel origins

It all goes back to 2004 — several years before Joss Whedon wrote and directed The Avengers. At the time, Whedon was the lead writer on Astonishing X-Men, a reimagining of the mutant team that shifted them away from the black leather paramilitary vibe they'd been rocking during the Grant Morrison years and back to the world of superheroics. Spandex was back in style, Whedon's trademark quips riddled the page, and the occupants of the Xavier School were back to their favorite pastime: getting harassed by aliens.

That's where S.W.O.R.D. came in. Originally standing for "Sentient World Observation and Response Department" (that'll be important in a minute), the organization was, in practice, S.H.I.E.L.D. in space. The multi-species organization operated out of a weaponized satellite orbiting planet Earth, and did pretty much what it says on the bottle: They observed sentient worlds and, when necessary, responded to them. Basically, any threat to Earth that you couldn't reach with a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier fell under S.W.O.R.D.'s purview.

So, there are a couple of reasons that S.W.O.R.D.'s inclusion in WandaVision should be making nerds' hearts race. The first is Marvel Studios' recent reveal that "S.W.O.R.D." stands for something distinctly different in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The second is the laundry list of specific characters generally associated with the organization.

Could S.W.O.R.D. mean mutants in the MCU?

First, there's the X-Men of it all. Having debuted in an X-Men title and worked alongside Marvel's Merry Mutants so frequently, S.W.O.R.D. is inexorably linked to the team — to the point that a S.W.O.R.D. Easter egg was cut from the first Thor movie. The scene in question featured Stellan Skarsgård's scientist character Erik Selvig stating in part, "Let's do another simulation of the Foster theory, and this time, we're using the S.H.I.E.L.D. astrophysical records. Now, we cross-reference them with S.W.O.R.D. data." This moment was removed presumably in order to avoid crossing the Fox-Disney property line prior to Disney's acquisition of the studio. 

Additionally, in the Marvel comics, a half-alien, half-mutant named Abigail Brand runs S.W.O.R.D., and the organization's employee phone book has included familiar names like Beast, Cable, and Magneto. 

All of this could tie pretty neatly into that name change we mentioned earlier. Prior to the series' release on Disney+, some fans noticed that a WandaVision-themed digital trading card set included an interesting detail: S.W.O.R.D. stands for "Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Department" in the MCU. WandaVision episode 4 confirmed this name change, when, about three minutes and 45 seconds in, text on the screen tells viewers they're now watching action taking place at the headquarters of S.W.O.R.D. — the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Department, not Sentient World. This implies that the group's wheelhouse is now one of two things: either those cartoon bullets from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or folks with inherent abilities that make them a perceived threat. Gosh, that sounds like mutants.

Longtime fans will know that Wanda Maximoff and her brother Pietro had their origin stories — how do we put this? — lovingly tenderized in order to bring them into the MCU. Originally, the Maximoff twins were a pair of mutants. While everything in the Marvel universe with an "X"-adjacent story was legally out of bounds for Disney, which owns Marvel, the siblings' association with the Avengers made them fair game, albeit with all that mutation business scrubbed off. Now that the House of Mouse has acquired nearly all Fox properties, mutants are back on the menu. Could a government department dedicated to dealing with living weapons, introduced alongside a potentially newly mutant-certified character, add up to the long-awaited introduction of the X-Men to the MCU?

We don't Wanda speak out of turn, but maybe.