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How The MCU Is Setting Up SHIELD's Replacement For Phase 4

S.W.O.R.D. Could Enter The MCU In Phase 4

In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. is the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. They were created by Joss Whedon in his popular Astonishing X-Men run, and were envisioned as an agency who handle "external" matters. While S.H.I.E.L.D. concern themselves with home-grown, human threats, S.W.O.R.D. is interested in aliens and - yes - elemental beings. They're typically run by Agent Brand, a half-mutant, half-alien with a serious attitude. Under Brand's leadership, as Whedon quipped, S.W.O.R.D. make S.H.I.E.L.D. look like the Girl Scouts. But that's largely because they're working on a scale even S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't like to dream of.

Related: Marvel After Avengers 4: Everything We Know About MCU Phase 4

The Avengers movie saw the general public learn about aliens in the universe for the first time. Since then, a number of major incidents have surely left the world terrified; the Dark Elves struck London in Thor: The Dark World, and Thanos and the Black Order attacked both New York and Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War - which resulted in Thanos' snap, aka the Decimation. It's logical that humanity will seek to find a way to protect itself - and an organization like S.W.O.R.D., presumably reporting to the United Nations and thus democratically accountable after a fashion, would be ideal. What's more, Nick Fury would probably fit in quite well with S.W.O.R.D.; he's been at the forefront of protecting the Earth from alien threats since 1995, after all. Fury wouldn't be trusted as Director after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., of course, but he would still work as a high-ranking field operative.

How S.W.O.R.D. Could Appear In Spider-Man: Far From Home

There's just one catch; the film rights to S.W.O.R.D. are generally believed to sit with 20th Century Fox. That always seemed likely, given the organization was introduced in the X-Men comics, and has continued to play a major role in that franchise; in fact, Agent Brand even dated the Beast for several years in the comics. And this was confirmed by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. VFX supervisor Mark Kolpack back in 2017, when rumors began to circulate that season 5 could introduce the MCU version of S.W.O.R.D.. "As cool as that would be," Kolpack said, "that is part of the X-Men universe." The rights will revert to Marvel upon completion of the Disney/Fox acquisition, but until that time, Marvel will be unable to use S.W.O.R.D..

There may be a way around this problem, though. The Disney/Fox purchase looks almost inevitable at this stage, and indeed there have been reports it could close by January 2019. This seems a little more unlikely at present; the deal is currently being examined by international regulators, and Brazil's antitrust regulator Cade has raised some concerns. It has until March to recommend remedial measures, which Disney and Fox will presumably acquiesce with in order to get approval. Still, for all this will hold things up a little, the fact remains that the acquisition is still expected to be completed in early 2019 - well before July, when Spider-Man: Far From Home will be released.

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It wouldn't actually be too difficult for Marvel to edit S.W.O.R.D. into the film. Let's assume, for example, that no explicit dialogue says the name of the organization Fury is working for. That would mean Marvel could edit it in pretty easily, using simple CGI to add the circular S.W.O.R.D. logo to some of the uniforms or vehicles. Attentive viewers have already noted that Spider-Man's stealth suit has a convenient circular shoulder-panel that's perfectly suited to adding a CGI logo on during post-production. So Marvel could edit S.W.O.R.D. into the film, leaving Fury's organization mysterious at this point but setting the stage for them to become increasingly important.

Captain Marvel And The Future Of S.W.O.R.D.

It's interesting to note that S.W.O.R.D. would fit well with the little we know of MCU's Phase 4. Prior to his departure from Marvel earlier this year, James Gunn revealed that Marvel was working on a number of cosmic scripts. Those plans are no doubt in a state of flux; they were intended to be launched by Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which is currently on hiatus. Still, progress on The Eternals strongly suggests that Marvel still want to take the MCU in a cosmic direction (with The Eternals even replacing the Guardians of the Galaxy), and S.W.O.R.D. would work tremendously well in this context. Meanwhile, it's generally assumed that Brie Larson's Captain Marvel will be a major figure in Phase 4 and beyond. Significantly, in the comics, Captain Marvel has become closely tied to S.W.O.R.D.; in fact, she even replaced Agent Brand as Director of the organization, and runs its Alpha Flight rapid response program.

Related: Captain Marvel Could Have Some Big Black Widow Connections

All this means there's tremendous story potential for S.W.O.R.D.. What's more, this idea would essentially turn Nick Fury into the Agent Coulson of the MCU's Phase 4 - the field operative who helps the heroes out and organizes them. It would explain just why Fury seems to be such a prominent figure in the post-Avengers: Endgame MCU, and even provide the potential for a Nick Fury TV series on Disney Plus to explore S.W.O.R.D.'s day-to-day operations, or perhaps even how it all came together without anyone noticing.

More: Every Upcoming Marvel Movie (2018 - 2020)

Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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