UPDATE: In an interesting twist, Frank Grillo now says via Instagram that Crossbones is dead, and he won’t be back. It’s unclear if he’s merely saying Crossbones/Brock Rumlow will only return in flashbacks or via time travel going forward, or that he won’t ever be returning to the MCU again at all. Check out his post below:
MCU actor Frank Grillo still has five movies remaining on his contract with Marvel, despite being dead in the current continuity. The actor has played the villain Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones, across three movies so far in roles of varying significance: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame.
Who is Crossbones?
Crossbones is typically depicted as a freelance mercenary or a H.Y.D.R.A. agent, and is usually an antagonist of Captain America, even playing a major role in his assassination in the aftermath of the comics arc Civil War. Although lacking superpowers, he’s a formidable opponent as a martial artist, sniper and military tactician, and possesses an unusually high pain threshold. In the MCU he first appeared as Brock Rumlow, the commander of S.T.R.I.K.E., the counter-terrorism unit of S.H.I.E.L.D., before being revealed as a double agent for the H.Y.D.R.A. cult that had been festering at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s heart since its inception. Although he was killed at the start of Civil War in an event that catalyzed the internal conflict, he reappeared during the time travel portion of Endgame as a secret H.Y.D.R.A. agent attempting to acquire Loki’s staff after the Battle of New York.
Frank Grillo in an interview revealed his pending contracts with Marvel
The nature of Grillo’s contract with Marvel came up during an interview with Comic Book. One question raised the possibility of his return, given the increasing chronological back-and-forth utilized in the ever-sprawling saga of the MCU, to which he stated “I got five more movies that I’m obligated to do for Marvel if they ever call me,” leading to him maybe-maybe-not joking about being a “middle-aged, Italian, Captain America.”
Some of Grillo’s previous notable work includes a recurring TV role in the first season of Prison Break as a defense lawyer, and the leading role of a police chief in short-lived supernatural drama series The Gates, while in film he began to make a name for himself with supporting roles in the likes of MMA drama Warrior, survival thriller The Grey, and police thriller End of Watch. His appearance in The Winter Soldier as well as his first lead movie role in The Purge: Anarchy, which were released within months of each other in 2014, truly put him on people’s radars, and led to greater success and notoriety.
Resurrection in superhero comics is so frequent that readers have long since become jaded to the demise of even beloved characters, but the MCU has been light on characters surviving death, although there have been exceptions, such as the return of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier, and Arnim Zola surviving the decades since World War II by uploading his consciousness into a supercomputer. Instead of bringing Crossbones back from the dead, it’s more likely for him to reappear in movies or scenes set in the past. Much of the unambiguous villain’s relevant movie history will have him as a H.Y.D.R.A. operative within the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but there’s also some potential for variance, since it’s stated at the start of Civil War that the Avengers spent six months tracking him, which leaves about 18 months from the climax of The Winter Soldier for him to operate as Crossbones after being disfigured in the destruction of the Triskelion. How – or even if – Grillo will be brought back into the MCU fold is something that only time will tell.