S.H.I.E.L.D. is an espionage and security organization that defends Earth and its people from groups that pose advanced technological—and sometimes supernatural or extraterrestrial—threats.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is shorthand for the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. It typically operates under United Nations’ authority and its command structure starts with an executive council of 12 people that represent national and corporate sponsors of the agency. They communicate solely with a director that they choose.
This appointed director leads all international operations and represents the agency to governments, other agencies, and the public. S.H.I.E.L.D. is comprised of thousands of operatives, some former CIA, Mossad, Hatut Zeraze, and MI6 agents while others come from a super human background. These operatives carry out clandestine missions to protect humans, eradicate evil, and, sometimes, root out corruption.
Tony Stark, the U.S. industrialist, inventor, and Super Hero, spearheaded S.H.I.E.L.D. to combat tyranny and crime across Earth in response to World War II terrorist groups like Hydra. While the original monikers of Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division or Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate do not apply today, each still resonates with its core mission.
Stark, with the support of his company Stark Industries, often provided advanced weaponry and combat equipment to the agency, even bringing in mutant inventor Forge and Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic, to help design S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first Helicarrier. A massive aircraft carrier that supports thousands of personnel and sustains flight at high altitudes with its anti-gravity vortex beam, the Helicarrier can carry out its anti-terrorism goals without being detected. Hydra destroyed the very first Helicarrier, but Stark quickly replaced it. Since then, S.H.I.E.L.D. has had at least one vessel in service throughout most of its history.