‘WandaVision’: What the Premiere’s Shocking Last Scene Means
In case the title of this article did not make it clear enough, the following post will contain SPOILERS for the first episode of WandaVision.
The series premiere of WandaVision does an impressive, almost eerie job of conjuring up the look and feel of a 1950s sitcom. The episode is shot in black-and-white and filmed in the boxy 4:3 aspect ratio of old tube television sets. There’s a kitchy sitcom theme song, a laugh track that bubbles up whenever one of the characters delivers a hokey one-liner, and even a bunch of special effects of the practical variety — like Wanda using her hex powers to move objects that are obviously suspended on wires — straight out a real vintage sitcom like Bewitched. Random frames look like they could have come from a forgotten, 60-year-old television show.
Then WandaVision’s “credits” roll.
These aren’t the real credits for the series we’re watching on Disney+, the ones that mention stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. These are the credits for the show within the show starring Wanda Maximoff and Vision. They play on a television screen in a mysterious location; as the camera pulls back (and the frame widens to the modern 16:9 aspect ratio), we see a variety of high-tech screens and devices. Someone — their face isn’t seen — is monitoring the situation, and writing something in a small notebook. And the notebook has a symbol on its cover that matches the one on one of the other monitors. Marvel fans will recognize the logo instantly.
It’s the logo of S.W.O.R.D.
As its name suggests, it’s a government agency that works in conjunction with and in support of its more famous counterpart, S.H.I.E.L.D. But while S.H.I.E.L.D. dates back to Marvel Comics’ glory days with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, S.W.O.R.D. is a relatively recent addition to the Marvel Universe; it was created in 2004 in the pages of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men. While S.H.I.E.L.D. is Marvel’s spy agency in charge of protecting the world from homegrown baddies, Marvel Comics’ S.W.O.R.D. is tasked with stopping invasions of Earth by extraterrestrial threats.
After their introduction in Astonishing X-Men, the group began to take on a broader role in Marvel Comics. Here’s the cover of 2009’s S.W.O.R.D. #1 by John Cassaday, with the distinctive logo visible at the end of WandaVision as the ‘o’ in the word sword:
The woman in green on the cover is Abigail Brand, who’s been a part of the group since its introduction in Astonishing X-Men. She’s essentially its equivalent of Nick Fury. Very little is known about her life before S.W.O.R.D. beyond the fact that she is half-human, half-alien (that explains the green hair). She’s also had a long relationship with the X-Man Beast. (He joins S.W.O.R.D. in the issue above, although that series only lasted for five issues before Marvel canceled it.) It’s definitely possible the unseen woman watching the “episode” of WandaVision on the vintage television screen is Abigail Brand.
It’s also possible it’s not — because while S.W.O.R.D. is clearly getting added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it looks like it will be a different version of the organization than the one in Marvel Comics. The original S.W.O.R.D. was specifically an organization dedicated to stopping alien invasions, and neither Wanda nor Vision are aliens. Unless they’ve been kidnapped and are being manipulated by unrevealed E.T.s — a possibility, albeit an extremely remote one, given the way the show seems to be shaking out — the MCU’s S.W.O.R.D. would need to have a different mission.
As it turns out, it appears that they do. Recently, someone uncovered some artwork from Topps trading cards of Monica Rambeau — the character played by Teyonah Parris — in a S.W.O.R.D. uniform. More importantly, it reveals that the MCU’s S.W.O.R.D. is a different acronym than the one in Marvel Comics. Originally, S.W.O.R.D. stood for “Sentient World Observation and Response Department,” denoting the group’s focus on aliens. In the MCU, according to these images, S.W.O.R.D. stands for “Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division.”
That would make a lot more sense given WandaVision’s premise, with the title characters mysteriously trapped in this simulation of vintage sitcoms. Although this is still speculation based on the two WandaVision episodes that have premiered so far, it looks like Wanda, grieving Vision’s death in Avengers: Infinity War, may have suffered a mental breakdown and lost control of her powers, which allow her to manipulate the fabric of reality. (There are comic-book precedents for just such a scenario, like House of M, where Wanda, devastated by the death of her children with Vision, completely reshaped the world into an alternate reality where mutants ruled over humans.) If Wanda is using her powers to change reality, that would qualify her as a “sentient weapon,” which would explain why S.W.O.R.D. is monitoring the situation.
Even without knowing the exact specifics, it’s a fun new mystery for Marvel fans to debate — and here’s one more. Even though S.W.O.R.D. deals with aliens, they’ve most often appeared in X-Men comics, where they work with (and sometimes antagonize) the X-Men. And mutants, with their incredible powers, would also qualify as “sentient weapons.” In Marvel Comics, Wanda is a mutant — her father is the X-Men villain Magneto — but in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mutants do not yet exist. So what if S.W.O.R.D. becomes the group in the MCU that polices mutants? Or what if Wanda’s powers go so wild by the end of WandaVision that she actually uses them to create mutants in the MCU?
Those are some Uatu-sized what ifs — we’ll know more when future episodes of WandaVision premiere on Disney+ on Fridays.
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