We’ve been hearing the name “Sokovia” a lot lately, most recently in last night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD. We know it’s a place, and we know it’s a fictional country original to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but why is it so important?
Where is Sokovia?
In the MCU, Sokovia is a nation in Eastern Europe that is in the midst of political turmoil. A corrupt and oppressive government has led to violent protests nearing outright rebellion, and as a result, SHIELD peacekeeping forces have been dispatched to the region. However, these SHIELD operatives were actually HYDRA sleeper agents, who used the chaos to covertly establish a base in the country.
As seen in the Age of Ultron Prelude comic, a SHIELD agent researching Loki’s scepter (recovered after the Battle of New York) was recruited by HYDRA, and subsequently stole the item for them. The scepter was moved to the Sokovian base, where further study on it was overseen by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker.
Why is it important?
Aside from being one of the Infinity Stones (and thus setup for Avengers 3), HYDRA’s acquisition of Loki’s scepter has had some immediate repercussions.
For one, HYDRA scientists managed to use the scepter to power Chitauri weapons, and have used that as the basis for further arms development. More importantly though, the scepter was somehow utilized in a series of attempts to give ordinary people superhuman abilities.
Strucker solicited research subjects from the local Sokovian population, promising them a way to fight back against their oppressive government. Almost all of these volunteers died during the process, except for two: twins by the name of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.
We saw the pair during the post-credits stinger scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Pietro demonstrating super speed, and Wanda manipulating wooden blocks with her mind. Why these two managed to survive when the others did not is a mystery, although it’s certainly possible that there’s a link to the Inhumans somewhere in there.
In the Age of Ultron tie-in episode of Agents of SHIELD, Phil Coulson’s team managed to gain access to a secure HYDRA database, extracting information on the Sokovian facility. Coulson passed this information on to Maria Hill, with the instructions to call in the Avengers.
This likely leads to the big confrontation with HYDRA teased in the Age of Ultron trailers. How that connects to Ultron himself is still unknown, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.