WandaVision has incorporated the government agency, SWORD, into the MCU in a big way. The series’ creatives took great care in constructing the look and feel of the group and its differentiation from SHIELD, according to director Matt Shakman. SWORD’s operatives have oscillated between heroes and villains through WandaVision so far, and they’ll likely continue to play a prominent role in Phase 4 of the MCU. SWORD’s exact motivations and objectives have yet to be made entirely clear.
In the MCU, SWORD (Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division) was founded by Maria Rambeau, close friend of Carol Danvers, in 1995. The agency’s objective at the time was conducting manned space missions to learn about potential extraterrestrial threats and prepare the Earth accordingly. After Rambeau’s death in 2020, Tyler Hayward stepped up as acting director, and the agency’s focus shifted from space to robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. Under that new focus, the Vision became of primary importance.
SWORD shares a lot of similarities with the MCU’s SHIELD, but the agencies are different in some key ways. In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, director Matt Shakman discussed the processing of building out SWORD’s unique look and feel for WandaVision. The goal was to make SWORD’s whole aesthetic very “grounded and real,” according to Shakman, and that design philosophy carried from SWORD HQ to the temporary camp outside Scarlet Witch’s Westview Hex. Read Shakman’s full quote below:
Oh, it was a super exciting opportunity to build a whole new agency. We started where we start pretty much anything when we design it; we say, ‘What would it be in the real world?’ So, we looked at Cape Canaveral, we looked at the history of the space agencies, and what those worlds looked like and felt like. Then we worked with our production designer, Mark Worthington, and concept designers and storyboard artists, and started to build out the world of S.W.O.R.D.
But we really wanted it to feel grounded and real, to contrast with the sitcom reality inside the hex. We looked at films that I think do that really well – movies like Arrival, for instance, and the temporary base that they built around their extraterrestrial anomaly was a great reference point for us. We imagined that S.W.O.R.D. is exactly the right agency when you have a radioactive anomaly; that they’re used to going into foreign planets, very difficult terrain. So, that pop-up base that we built was based off existing radiological and biological chemical response units that are out there.
As WandaVision’s finale approaches, SWORD is looking more and more like the bad guys of the show. The post-credits scene for WandaVision episode 8 revealed that the agency has successfully reconstructed Vision’s original vibranium body using some of Wanda’s own Chaos Magic. The result is a stark, silvery white Vision, with a frighteningly stoic countenance. With two Visions now at large, and Hayward’s own distaste for superpowered individuals clear, it’s possible that a mirror battle between the two could happen as part of the show’s climax.
Regardless of what role SWORD plays in the WandaVision finale, they’ll likely continue to be a major narrative force in Phase 4 of the MCU. It’s unclear how they’ll interact with Nick Fury and the Skrulls, and since Phase 4 has yet to reveal any major crossover threats like Thanos, it could be some time before the MCU’s various secret groups collide. It’s also possible that SWORD could change dramatically after WandaVision ends if it is indeed revealed to have more nefarious intentions than previously believed.