Saturday, April 10, 2021

What is S.W.O.R.D. in the Marvel Comics?

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It all goes back to 2004, the better part of a decade before Joss Whedon wrote and directed The Avengers. At the time, he 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) they were, in practice, S.H.I.E.L.D. in space. The multispecies organization operated out of a weaponized satellite orbiting the 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 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 right about now. The first is Marvel Studios’ recent reveal that “S.W.O.R.D.” stands for something distinctly different in the MCU. The second is the laundry list of very specific characters generally associated with the organization.

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