When you look Captain America’s rogues gallery, Crossbones is among the more prominent faces, with Brock Rumlow having been a thorn in Steve Rogers’ side in the comics for over three decades. So it made sense when the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced the villain in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, although Captain America: Civil War took him out of the picture just a couple years later. Then Avengers: Endgame came around and provided Frank Grillo the opportunity to cameo as a past version of Rumlow, but as it turns out, the actor originally turned down appearing in the Infinity Saga capper.
Frank Grillo recently stopped by the Lights Camera Barstool podcast to promote his new movie Boss Level, and when the conversation turned to Marvel, he fondly recalled his time working on Captain America: The Winter Soldier with directors Joe and Anthony Russo. Then he said the following about why he initially didn’t want to appear in Avengers: Endgame:
The trajectory of Crossbones took a turn and he was out of the series really quickly, right?And I was a little pissed off about it because, y’know, I signed a seven-picture deal with them. And it was like, ‘Oh, you're going to be part of the Marvel Universe, right?’ And it didn't happen. And so they called me and they said, ‘Look, we need you to come down for a week for Avengers,’ and I'm like, ‘For what?’ And they go, ‘Well, we can't…’ I'm like, ‘No, I'm not doing it.’ So I hung up. I get a call back. I'm like, ‘I'm not coming. Leave me alone’ And like… who am I? Who am I, right?
In case you need an Avengers: Endgame refresher, Frank Grillo’s Brock Rumlow appeared during Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk and Ant-Man’s trip to the Battle of New York in 2012, with Cap specifically setting out to retrieve Loki’s scepter, which contained the Mind Stone. Rumlow and his STRIKE team had already obtained the weapon, but Steve Rogers was persuaded them to give it to him by pretending he was a fellow HYDRA operative. It was an amusing scene that initially looked like it would lead to a recreation of the elevator fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
But had Frank Grillo stuck to his original guns, he wouldn’t have cameoed in Avengers: Endgame, as he was dissatisfied with what had happened to Brock Rumlow over the course of just two movies. Remember, we didn’t actually see him as Crossbones until the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, and he died just minutes later. So who can we thank for Grillo changing his mind? That honor belongs to his son. The actor continued:
My 22-year-old son said to me,‘You should go and do Avengers.’ I'm like, ‘Oh yeah, why should I go?’ ‘Because I'm telling you need to go.’ He said, ‘I don't care if you're in the movie for 10 seconds. It's a part of history. It's a big deal. It’s a big scene. It’s an important thing… everybody gets to kind of smile and go, ‘Oh my God!’ And that’s why I did it, because of my son, not because of the Russos.
He may have only briefly popped up in Avengers: Endgame, but at least Frank Grillo can now say he participated not just in the biggest MCU movie yet, but the highest-grossing movie of all time. It’s also worth noting that Grillo hasn’t completely left Crossbones behind, as he’s been recording lines for Disney+’s upcoming animated series What If… ?, which explores what would happen if certain MCU moments unfolded differently.
However, as far Crossbones’ live-action future is concerned, Frank Grillo said last month that he doesn’t expect he’ll be brought back. Granted, he also expressed interest during the Lights Camera Barstool interview in seeing Crossbones return to the MCU, whether he reprises the role or someone else takes over. But considering the character’s ultimate fate and how he was a supporting bad guy at best, he’s probably right that Brock Rumlow’s time in the cinematic spotlight is over. Oh well, at least he got to participate in three of this superhero franchise’s most popular movies.
While we wait to see how Crossbones’ life has been altered in these What If… ? scenarios, you can watch Frank Grillo perform opposite Mel Gibson in Boss Level, which is now playing on Hulu. Those of you curious about what Marvel movies are on the horizon would be wise to look through our detailed guide on that subject.