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Who is Abigail Brand? Get to know Emilia Clark's MCU role ahead of Disney+'s Secret Invasion

Get to know Abigail Brand ahead of her MCU debut in Secret Invasion

Abigail Brand
Image credit: Valerio Schiti (Marvel Comics)

Abigail Brand plays by her own rules. At first glance she might seem like another Marvel Universe super spy, but a closer look reveals more. Brand has thwarted multiple alien invasions, controlled various government organizations, and manipulated heroes and villains alike. Her methodology is so controversial that sometimes it’s hard to tell whose side she’s on. Brand will be making her MCU debut in the Disney+ show Secret Invasion, making this the perfect time to brush up on her dossier.

Who is Abigail Brand in the comics?

Abigail Brand explains her mutant lineage
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Abigail Brand is a human/alien hybrid who operates in Marvel’s espionage circles. She’s also a mutant, thanks to the X-Gene she inherited from her human mother. She is known for her signature green hair, which comes from her alien lineage. Brand is usually depicted as an ally of the X-Men, or a major player in one of the Marvel Universe’s various secret organizations. Abigail Brand was created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. She made her first appearance in Astonishing X-Men #3 (2004).

Very little is known about Abigail’s background, and that’s the way she likes it. In fact, Brand isn’t even her real last name. Abigail’s mutant powers allow her to generate fire with her hands, which is why she chose the surname Brand. In X-Men Red #10 (2022) we learned that Abigail’s true last name was Thanriaguiaxus – 18 years after she first appeared! Like we said, Abigail is a woman of many secrets.

Although Abigail’s early life is largely a mystery, there are basic biographical facts we can piece together from statements she has made over the years. According to S.W.O.R.D. #11 (2021) Abigail was born and raised on a planet called Axus. In Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (2008) Brand told Beast that her father was a “blue furry monster.” In Avengers vs. X-Men:: Consequences #4 (2012) Brand revealed that her mother was a mutant human. Abigail also has a paternal half-brother named Lothi who was seen in the 2009 S.W.O.R.D. series. Unlike Abigail, Lothi’s entire body is covered in green fur.

What is Abigail Brand’s role in the Marvel Universe?

Abigail Brand answerign to S.H.I.E.L.D. leadership
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Abigail Brand was introduced in Astonishing X-Men #3 as the leader of the Sentient World Observation and Response Department (otherwise known as S.W.O.R.D.). The clandestine organization is a division of S.H.I.E.L.D. which specializes in protecting Earth from extraterrestrial threats. Brand learned that a planet called Breakworld was planning to fire a giant bullet at Earth, splitting the planet in half. Breakworld believed in a prophecy that said one of Earth’s mutants was destined to destroy their planet.

Brand worked to stop Earth’s destruction by helping an alien named Orb distribute a mutant cure throughout Earth. By eliminating mutants, Breakworld’s prophecy would be prevented, eliminating the need to destroy Earth. Brand and Orb’s work on the mutant cure involved torturing and experimenting on Colossus, a former member of the X-Men who had been presumed dead. These actions put her face to face with the X-Men for the first time. The X-Men didn’t like or trust Abigail, but they reluctantly agreed to work alongside her to solve the Breakworld crisis.

Brand and the X-Men traveled to Breakworld to diffuse the conflict, and stop the giant bullet. After they succeeded, Brand invited Beast to join S.W.O.R.D. and work alongside her. The two began a romantic relationship, which eventually fell apart after their lives took them in different directions. During the Breakworld conflict Abigail was reprimanded by S.H.I.E.L.D. leadership for her controversial actions. “There is no line,” Abigail responded. “For the safety of this planet, there is no one I will not sacrifice. No monster I will not call friend. No enemy I will not sleep with.”

That statement tells you everything you need to know about Abigail Brand. Although she has been allies with the X-Men and Marvel’s other heroes, she won’t hesitate to manipulate or betray her friends if she believes it will help S.W.O.R.D. accomplish its goals. Brand does not show deference to her superiors, as Maria Hill and Carol Danvers learned when she worked for them. Abigail Brand is a useful person to have on your side, even if you can’t be sure what side she’s on.

Does Abigail Brand have powers?

Abigail Brand demontrates her powers
Image credit: Marvel Comics

In addition to being a human/alien hybrid, Abigail Brand is a mutant. Abigail has the power to generate flames from her hands. She uses this ability to “brand” her enemies, which is how she got the surname Brand. Abigail is able to control the intensity of her flames, summoning a small fire, or allowing the blaze to expand and engulf her enemies in an inferno. When they’re at their strongest, Abigail’s flames can burn through metal.

Abigail’s alien physiology also gives her advanced strength. In Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 Abigail took a direct plasma blast to the chest and was able to walk it off. Her tongue is shaped differently than the human tongue, allowing her to speak languages unpronounceable to the human race. She once surprised the X-Men by revealing she could communicate fluently with their dragon Lockheed.

What is Abigail Brand’s role in the MCU?

Emilia Clarke as Abigail Brand in Secret Invasion
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Abigail Brand will make her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the Disney+ mini-series Secret Invasion, which premieres sometime in spring 2023. The series is based on the 2008 comic book event where shapeshifting aliens known as the Skrulls replaced many of Marvel’s heroes. Emilia Clarke has been cast as Abigail Brand for the mini-series. Clarke is best known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Set photos and footage from the teaser trailer indicate that Clarke’s version of Brand will be a brunette instead of sporting her green hair from the comics.

S.W.O.R.D. was previously introduced to the MCU in the Disney+ series WandaVision. The organization’s name was changed to Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division. Interestingly, S.W.O.R.D. was almost mentioned as far back as Thor (2011). The reference to the organization was deleted from the script due to another company owning S.W.O.R.D.'s film rights at the time. Since S.W.O.R.D. originated in the X-Men line of comics, their film rights belonged to 20th Century Fox. Disney acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019, rendering the problem moot.

It's unknown whether the Secret Invasion Disney+ series will depict Abigail as a mutant. For many years the MCU avoided incorporating mutants due to issues with the X-Men film rights. The acquisition of 20th Century Fox opened that door (much as it did with S.W.O.R.D.), allowing Marvel Studios to slowly introduce mutants. References to mutants were made in multiple MCU productions throughout 2022, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Is it possible that Abigail Brand will be next?

Where can I find out more about Abigail Brand?

Abigail Brand on the S.W.O.R.D. #1 (2009) cover
Image credit: Marvel Comics

If you want to learn more about Abigail Brand, then Whedon/Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men run is the perfect place to start. Astonishing X-Men features Abigail Brand’s earliest appearances and establishes everything you need to know about her. The run is collected in an omnibus as Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. It’s also collected in two volumes under the title Astonishing X-Men Ultimate Collection Book.

Abigail Brand starred in the five-issue series S.W.O.R.D. in 2009. The series focused on Brand’s adventures with the clandestine organization, mixing espionage intrigue with extraterrestrial threats. The complete mini-series is collected in the trade paperback X-Men: S.W.O.R.D. – No Time To Breathe. S.W.O.R.D. was revived as an ongoing series in 2020, and once again Brand was at the center of the action. This series lasted for 11 issues, and has been collected in a two volume trade paperback series.

For more on Abigail Brand and her Marvel Universe allies, keep your eyes peeled to Popverse for more news, breakdowns and character guides.

Get to know everyhing about Marvel Studios' Secret Invasion on Disney+.