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Is The MCU Gearing Up To Introduce The Cosmic Successor To Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D.?

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WARNING: This article contains massive spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.

By the time the final credits for Avengers: Endgame had rolled, audiences knew who was — and who wasn’t — going to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s Phase Four. Iron Man and Black Widow are dead, and Captain America has traveled back in time (but, supposedly, in a “branch reality”). Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye are still around, but their involvement in future adventures remains uncertain. As for the new recruits, they will most definitely be returning, and their continued adventures may take them further into the cosmos.

That is, if Nick Fury has anything to say about it.

At the very end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, during the second post-credits scene, the audience learns that the Fury and Maria Hill present throughout that film’s adventures were actually Talos and Soren in disguise. The two shape-shifting Skrulls, who were last seen in Captain Marvel, have apparently aligned themselves with Fury, who was actually enjoying a coconut drink while lounging in a beach chair on a fake beach somewhere in space. In reality, the ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. director has been overseeing the construction of some kind of cosmic base with the Skrulls’ help, and Talos nervously defends his slip-up on the phone to an annoyed Fury.

On the one hand, that the same shape-shifting race feared and hated by the Kree is evidently scared of Fury is hilarious. On the other hand, Fury’s new interstellar role — and his overseeing what appears to be the construction of some kind of space-bound facility — suggests that the super spy has a new plan of action for whatever cosmic threats the MCU’s future may hold. In other words, it seems that Fury is about to establish Sentient World Observation and Response Department — otherwise known as S.W.O.R.D.

What is S.W.O.R.D.?

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If Far From Home‘s Skrull surprise means that Fury is up to something off-world, then that “something” is probably the formation of S.W.O.R.D. or something like it. Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made a throwaway joke about there being a “sister organization” that kept watch over Earth’s skies. But if the filmmakers want viewers to think that Fury and the Skrulls are working together, then the creation of yet another group with a ridiculous acronym makes sense. After all, everyone — including the entire universe — just came back following the events of Endgame.

Created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday in 2004, S.W.O.R.D. was depicted as a sibling covert organization doing for potential interstellar threats what S.H.I.E.L.D. did for those on Earth. Since the group and its chief representative, Special Agent Abigail Brand, were both closely connected to the X-Men, the properties probably weren’t entirely within the confines of Marvel Studios’ creative capabilities. Now that the X-Men and Fantastic Four titles are back in their wheelhouse, however, there’s nothing stopping Kevin Feige and company from introducing them both.

And instead of bombarding audiences with yet another secretive entity and its extraterrestrial and mutant affiliations all at once, why not gently unleash the idea via Fury’s clandestine efforts with the Skrulls? Besides, Avengers: Infinity War‘s snap didn’t just kill half of all sentient life on Earth. It did this to the entire universe. So, of course, a human super spy, a shape-shifting race of aliens, and other extraterrestrial individuals or groups are going to want to be ready for whatever happens next.

Do we really need another S.H.I.E.L.D.?

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And rest assured: something big is going to happen next. It’s Marvel Studios and Feige’s modus operandi. Sure, they love to do little one-off films like the Ant-Man movies, but with 11 years’ worth of interconnected films behind them, it’s difficult for the filmmakers not to turn their tentpole team-up films into massive affairs. So, while Marvel is currently filming and preparing to film smaller adventures like the Black Widow prequel and Shang-Chi, bigger, more cosmic adventures are afoot.

For example, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is coming, now with even more James Gunn than before. Meanwhile, the space and time-jumping The Eternals is rumored to be casting the likes of Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, and Richard Madden, among others. (Hell, even Keanu Reeves might pop up in that particular title. Who knows?) While fans and journalists alike know next to nothing about what Phase Four will hold, Feige has gone on the record to say that news of their plans is coming soon. And for the past few years, he’s hinted at how cosmic they will be.

So, whatever new form the next iteration of the Avengers takes in the MCU’s followup to Endgame, chances are good that S.W.O.R.D. — or something like it — will be there to keep everyone in line and focused.

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