WandaVision: What’s Really Going On With S.W.O.R.D., Hayward, And Project Cataract?

This article contains spoilers for WandaVision.

As fans still try and figure out who is the big bad of WandaVision, it looks like there’s at least one villain skulking around outside the Westview anomaly.

A highlight of Jac Schaeffer’s series has been the introduction of Teyonah Parris as a grown-up version of Captain Marvel’s Monica Rambeau.

During the five years she missed thanks to Thanos, a lot changed at S.W.O.R.D. HQ which included the appointment of Tyler Hayward as acting director – following the tragic passing of Maria Rambeau.

Since Hayward first put Monica on the Westview case, we’ve had suspicions he’s got his own agenda. With WandaVision’s latest episode confirming it, just what is Hayward up to?

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After Hayward unceremoniously ditched Rambeau, Agent Woo, and Darcy Lewis from his operation, Kat Dennings’ plucky astrophysicist snuck back onto the base and hacked into S.W.O.R.D.’s secret files.

It was here she discovered what Hayward has been up to when she unearthed “Project Cataract”.

Although Darcy managed to send the files to Woo, she was quickly captured and ended up being sucked into the anomaly as Wanda went full Scarlet Witch in the episode’s final moments.

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To figure out what S.W.O.R.D. is up to, we have to go back to start. One of the show’s big reveals was that S.W.O.R.D. nabbed Vision’s body from the Wakandan battlefield and was storing it at HQ – albeit in several different parts.

In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. stands for ‘Sentient World Observation And Response Department’, but in WandaVision it’s been tweaked to ‘Sentient Weapon Observation And Response Division’.

It originally looked like the shady department was brought to Westview to monitor Wanda as a potential ‘weapon’, but what if S.W.O.R.D. was planning on rebooting Vis for its own nefarious means?

As Avengers: Age Of Ultron has shown, a rogue robot made of Vibranium can be a dangerous piece of kit.

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In Marvel Comics, there’s no mention of anything called ‘Project Cataract’, but its mysterious name could tie with the reanimated Vision. It’s a huge leap but note that both Vision and Pietro have cataract-style eyes when Wanda glitches to see them in their dead forms.

We also know S.W.O.R.D. is tracking Vision from outside the anomaly, meaning it’s possible Hayward’s team placed something inside Wanda’s dead lover. As a potential failsafe, imagine a bomb inside Vision that’s ready to take out Wanda if she gets out of hand.

Organisations like S.H.I.E.L.D. are no stranger to clandestine operations with no care for casualties. Even though most of Hayward’s team has been sucked into Westview alongside the other 3,892 residents Wanda has trapped, we doubt he’d be worried about collateral damage.

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Another altogether more gripping idea would set up the upcoming Secret Invasion series.

Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home briefly touched on the idea with the shocking reveal that Nick Fury was actually the Skrull Talos.

WandaVision has already hinted at their shapeshifting return when Woo’s whiteboard namedropped the alien race, but having Hayward revealed as a Skrull so soon after the Fury twist is a little too easy.

Instead, picture the scene where the S.W.O.R.D. director is a Kree who’s infiltrated the ranks.

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The Kree are definitely villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), with Carol Danvers besting them in Captain Marvel.

A potential hint at Hayward’s Kree heritage is his clear disdain for Danvers. Before he booted Rambeau he went on a rant about the superpowered Captain Marvel.

Alongside the “pure” Kree race like Ronan The Accuser, we’ve seen the pink-skinned and humanoid version like Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg.

The Kree still keep their signature yellow eyes, but Project Cataract might be a not-so-subtle nod to Hayward wearing lenses to conceal this. This would make Secret Invasion a clever twist on the comics with the Kree taking over the role of the Skrulls.

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A final idea ties into the return of Pietro. Fans picked up on Quicksilver’s strange behaviour in All-New Halloween Spooktacular!, with Wanda’s resurrected brother prying a little too deeply into how she came to live this perfect life with her bouncing boys in tow.

While there are whispers he could be the villainous Nightmare in disguise to cue Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, he could also be a double agent sent in by Hayward as some sort of Project Cataract creation.

Either way, we think there’s definitely something up with cool Uncle P.

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Whatever Project Cataract is, it ultimately looks like bad news for the Vision Family. Even though WandaVision takes its cues from a variety of comic book arcs, each week is building closer to the West Coast Avengers line of the ‘80s.

Two major stories were the Vision Quest and Darker Than Scarlet arcs. Vision was ripped apart by the time-travelling villain Immortus, as Vision Quest included an iconic two-page spread that showed a dismantled Vis.

Hank Pym managed to put him back together, but he returned with a chalk-white complexion and effectively had his ‘soul’ torn out.

This was the first step in Wanda’s mental breakdown, which culminated in her realising her boys weren’t real, embracing her villainous streak as Scarlet Witch, killing Agatha Harkness, and (eventually) leading to the House Of M story decades later.

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The writing was already on the wall for Vison, but as the latest episode has shown, he can’t survive outside Wanda’s suburban bubble.

We doubt S.W.O.R.D. will be able to go through with its sinister scheme to weaponise Vision, but with Bettany remaining tight-lipped on his MCU future, we’re guessing there’s another heartbreaking goodbye on the cards for Marvel’s golden couple.

If this is the case, it would neatly set up Wanda breaking bad and becoming a Thanos-level villain in Phase Four.

WandaVision did cleverly slip in the reminder that Kevin Feige said she’s the strongest Avenger (sorry Thor) and could’ve beaten Thanos in Endgame.

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The MCU has a long history of high-ranking officials being double agents. Obadiah Stane, the aforementioned Yon-Rogg, and even S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Alexander Pierce.

It’s become a little stereotypical that those at the top have an ulterior motive, but Hayward is definitely playing into the whole ‘evil director’ stereotype.

He could just be a Phil Coulson-inspired agent trying to do good and save us all from superpowered threats, but to be honest, we ain’t buying it.

WandaVision airs every Friday exclusively on Disney+.

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Tom Chapman

Tom Chapman

Contributing Writer

Tom Chapman is a Manchester-based writer with square eyes and the love of a good pun. Raised on a diet of Jurassic Park and Jumanji, this '90s boy had VHS movies flowing in his blood from a young age. These days, he's addicted to all things Watchmen, Game of Thrones, and The Mandalorian, while reading up on what the X-Men are doing and imagining a life in Gotham City. Having previously worked at What Culture, Movie Pilot, and Screen Rant, Tom is now finding his way at Zavvi, Digital Spy, Radio Times, and Comic Book Resources. No topic is too big or too small for this freelance writer by day, crime-fighting vigilante by night