The first installment of Disney+’s long and expansive slate of Marvel shows arrives today in the form of WandaVision, which stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, a superhuman with telekinesis, telepathy, and reality-bending powers, and Vision (Paul Bettany), Tony Stark’s trusted A.I. sidekick turned sentient android. In the films, the two ex-Avengers fell in love; the new series finds them living happily ever after in a post-Endgame world. Or so it seems.
On the surface, WandaVision is both a homage to and parody of traditional, Golden Age era sitcoms: The first two episodes are in black-and-white; one plot is built around a classic case of miscommunication that leaves the two scrambling to impress Vision’s boss with a dinner party involving an impromptu dinner. But of course, this isn’t just going to be an I Love Lucy riff. There’s something mysterious, maybe even nefarious afoot.
As a refresher: in the film timeline, we last saw Wanda mourning Vision’s death by Thanos’ hand. The two episodes that dropped today (there will be seven more weekly installments), are mostly concerned with wacky marital hijinks and concealing the duo’s powers from the townspeople, but the final moments of each episode are permeated by a lingering, weirdness that hints at what’s to come: We see a person watching Wanda and Vision on television and an ominous man in a beekeeper suit climbing out of a sewer, whose presence terrifies Wanda. Both of these people wear clothes emblazoned with sword iconography. That might not mean a lot to most viewers, but for fans of Marvel Comics, it’s a signifier of a new player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Ladies and gentlemen, meet S.W.O.R.D.
Obscure by even comic book standards, S.W.O.R.D. is a secret government organization that guards planet Earth. Not only do the references to it seemingly tease the future of WandaVision, they also provide some context for the end credits tag of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Let’s take a deep dive into WandaVision’s first big easter egg: the emergence of S.W.O.R.D. and the ramifications it could have for the future of the MCU.
What is S.W.O.R.D.?
S.W.O.R.D. might sound familiar because it’s easy to confuse with S.H.I.E.L.D. (aka the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division). That’s the government organization that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) led in the first nine Marvel films, responsible for bringing together Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk to form the Avengers. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it was revealed that HYDRA (a radical Nazi splinter group) managed to infiltrate not only the highest branches of the US Government but S.H.I.E.L.D. too. These events culminated in the disbanding of S.H.I.E.L.D., left Fury without a job, and placed the Avengers under U.S. government control.