Among its many other strengths, Captain America: The Winter Soldier ably played with smaller characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, utilizing many iconic comic-book foes (including the brainwashed assassin of the subtitle) and teasing other major character arcs. Agent 13 (Emily Van Camp) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) were introduced, Stephen Strange (aka Doctor Strange) and Moon Knight (less directly – though who else is in Cairo?) were name-dropped, Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) made an appearance alongside Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in the post-credits scene, and, most excitingly, Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) served as one of the film’s main antagonists.
Any Captain America fans out there knew that they were in for something great when Grillo was cast as Rumlow. And by the end of The Winter Soldier, they were likely thrilled to see that Rumlow was well on his way to becoming the ruthless assassin Crossbones. Following the explosive battle at the Triskelion, the character was seen being wheeled down a hospital corridor, severely burned but clinging to life. We know that Grillo will be reprising the role in Captain America 3 as part of the multi-picture deal he signed with Marvel, so it appears to only be a matter of time until Rumlow takes on the guise of Crossbones to take revenge on the Cap.
Christopher Markus, a co-writer on the first two Captain America movies and the upcoming third, spoke about Rumlow’s journey over the course of the series way back when The Winter Soldier was in production, saying:
“I would say he’s learning to be Crossbones in a way. With Frank Grillo, he’s a great actor. When he wants to, he can turn on this light that makes you think, “He’s out of his mind,” and I think somewhere down the line he will push past the R rating. He doesn’t in this movie, mainly because it’s PG-13, what are we going to do past an R? We can’t go past the PG-13. Taste of things to come? I don’t know if I’m leaking…”
An R-rated Crossbones would certainly be in keeping with the character’s brutal modus operandi in the comics, but I seriously doubt we’ll ever see it. Still, Grillo is confident he’ll be returning in some capacity for Captain America 3. The actor recently explained:
“Very early on the Russos said, ‘Look, this is an origin film for this character. We’re gonna discover who this is and this is a big movie with a lot of moving parts, but we’re gonna discover you in this film and, you know, here’s the information about who Brock Rumlow turns into and blah, blah, blah.’ And so we’ve had multiple discussions about what comes after that, that thing. So, you know, it’s obvious Rumlow is covered in rubble and burned to crisp at the end, but you see he’s still there. They don’t do that for no reason.”
Whenever he speaks to an outlet about his part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Grillo doesn’t try to hide his excitement about playing such a key role. When recently asked about whether audiences would get to see him in Crossbones’ typical skull mask, the actor teased:
“He needs a costume! Coincidentally it could be a mask with a crossbones on it.”
When talking to Screen Crush later on, he added:
“Yeah, his face is burned. If you read the comics about Crossbones, you know, Marvel always takes their interpretation of the comics. It’s exciting.”
Grillo had one more tidbit for fans – and it’s a doozy. Crossbones has a long history in the Marvel universe, and he’s gone up against a number of different costumed heroes. So when asked whether Crossbones would exclusively be going up against Captain America in the future, Grillo said:
“No. He could show up in anything. He could have his own thing. He could really have his own thing.”
Grillo is an amazing actor, so I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect that Marvel could pursue a standalone project for him. Would it be a movie, though, or a series, like with Netflix’s Daredevil? The latter seems much more likely, which opens up the question: could Marvel go R-rated for a Crossbones spinoff? Would it? The realist in me says no, but the fanboy in me is cheering at the mere thought.
We’ll probably next see Crossbones in Captain America 3, which opens May 6th, 2016.