Crossbones has been a regular in Captain America's comic book rogues gallery since the late 1980s, and following his introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the villain finally donned his masked guise two years later in Captain America: Civil War. We didn't have long to appreciate the MCU's Crossbones in his full glory since he met a messy end at the beginning of Civil War, but Frank Grillo has confirmed that he will reprise the character in Avengers 4 next year, though not because Brock Rumlow has been resurrected. Grillo has revealed how his next appearance will go down with a succinct statement, noting,
He makes an appearance in the next Avengers movie, but it's in a flashback.
Frank Grillo revealed this during his recent appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, adding that he's okay with spoiling that piece of information because he's never doing another Marvel movie again, then joking that it's because he's "117 years old." I can't imagine people at Marvel Studios are pleased that Grillo dropped this spoiler, but for the fans, this is certainly welcome news.
If you've been following along regularly with Avengers 4's development, then Frank Grillo reprising Crossbones doesn't come entirely as a surprise. In September of last year, Grillo gave us our first inkling that something special was being planned for the character with the following statement:
It's great to be part of Marvel too, and I have three boys who are fanatical about Marvel, and I was surprised not too long ago because there is some news that nobody knows yet, to do with my character, that's going to be really interesting, and I am excited about that.
Naturally an actor saying something like that was going to get the MCU fanatics speculating, but a month later, Grillo backtracked on his earlier statement and tried to temper expectations. He said:
Look, Marvel's awesome. I have a long-term contract with them and it's a superhero movie, you never know. I don't have any idea. I said that once before about two weeks ago and people jumped on that and thought I said Crossbones is back. No. That's ridiculous. But we'll see what happens. I'm not waiting for the phone to ring.
Had things ended there and this latest statement was our most recent update, then maybe Frank Grillo announcing Crossbones' return would be way more of a shocker. But then last November, someone claimed to have spotted Grillo on the Avengers 4 set. Obviously something like that is far from official, but nevertheless, it looked more likely that Crossbones was making yet another MCU appearance, and almost a full year later, it's been confirmed this is indeed the case, although that didn't stop the actor from trolling fans about it this past summer.
Brock Rumlow was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the commander of STRIKE, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s elite counter-terrorist unit. Since Captain America had become one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s top operatives following the events of The Avengers, it initially seemed like Rumlow would be a welcome ally for the patriotic hero. Oh, how wrong that assumption was.
We soon learned that Brock Rumlow and the entire STRIKE team, like many people within S.H.I.E.L.D., were actually HYDRA agents, and they spent the majority of Captain America: The Winter Soldier trying to capture or kill Steve Rogers and his allies. During the movie's climactic showdown, Rumlow tussled with Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, but the fight abruptly ended when a Helicarrier crashed into the building they were in. Sam escaped, but Rumlow was crushed by the bricks and horribly burned.
Miraculously, not only did Brock Rumlow survive these terrible injuries, he also wasn't left paralyzed or brain dead. Instead, he was now almost completely immune to pain and driven to exact revenge on Captain America for what happened to him. This kicked off the Crossbones chapter of his life, where he ditched HYDRA and started carrying out his own plan.
Cut to Captain America: Civil War, Crossbones and his team of mercenaries stole a biological agent from the Institute for Infectious Diseases in Lagos, Nigeria to draw the Avengers out. They were successful, and it culminated in Crossbones and Steve Rogers throwing down in fisticuffs. Steve defeated Crossbones, but the villain then activated the bomb in his vest. Scarlet Witch tried to contain the explosion in the air, but it ended up killing several Wakandans in a nearby building, which later played a role in the Sokovia Accords being passed.
Given how rarely permanent death is in the comics, one wouldn't be faulted for thinking that Crossbones would somehow be restored to life during Avengers 4. Alas, with the surviving Avengers having to deal with Thanos and possibly an even greater threat coming, I don't blame the filmmakers for not retrieving him from six feet under.
Instead, it's looks like the Crossbones we see in Avengers 4 will be from when we saw him in Captain America: Civil War. Right before 2017 ended, we saw a behind-the-scenes photo of Scarlett Johansson wearing the same clothes and rocking the same hairdo she was at the beginning of Civil War. Throw in some other set leaked set photos, such as of Chris Evans wearing his Avengers-era Captain America uniform, and it's clear we're looking back at important moments of MCU history.
Although there's been plenty of speculating and theorizing about time travel being an important element in Avengers 4, officially speaking that has yet to be confirmed. The Russos have indicated that Tony Stark's BARF technology will also be brought into play in the movie, so maybe some or all of these past looks are holographic images. Whatever is going on here, Crossbones fans can at least look forward to one last appearance from the character.
Avengers 4 hits theaters on May 3, 2019, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. Don't forget to also look through our Marvel movies guide to find out what else this superhero franchise has coming down the pipeline.