Following an introductory Phase I and a Phase 2 that dealt primarily with revenge and redemption, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase III will begin and end with war. Before the climactic, cosmos-crossing, and potentially reality-ending Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel's Avengers will disassemble in Captain America: Civil War. Despite the main plot though - which sees Iron Man and Captain America (and their respective allies) going to war over superhero rights - there will of course be other, more antagonistic forces working against both sides.
Since witnessing his "birth" in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we've known for a while now that Brock Rumlow a.k.a. Crossbones (Frank Grillo) would serve as one of said forces. Set photos confirmed as much earlier this year, teasing the super villain's costume and signature skull mask, as well as a brutal fight with Chris Evan's Captain America. That said, just how significant of a force Crossbones will actually be in the film - especially considering Baron Zemo's villainous presence as well - remains unknown.
While promoting his upcoming show Kingdom at the TCAs this past weekend, Frank Grillo spoke to Collider about reprising the role, having the opportunity to don a proper comic book costume, and acting alongside Marvel's top-billed stars.
It’s just what you would imagine it to be ... Me and [Chris] Evans were doing this scene for days, where we were supposed to be in a certain part of the world and they recreated that world. There were hundreds of extras, and there we were in the center of it. [Robert] Downey wanted to come down and watch us do the scene. So, at one point, I turn around and Downey is there and [Jeremy] Renner was there and Paul Rudd had just come down, and they were all watching us do our thing. I was like, “Wow, this is special! This is really cool!”
Aside from working with the likes of RDJ and Chris Evans, another aspect that made the experience so "special" for Grillo was actually becoming Crossbones and embracing the character in full. When the actor put on the costume and helmet for the very first time, he said it "changed [his] whole DNA." Grillo's excitement for his character notwithstanding, he did reveal his role in the overall film is limited due to its massive scope and cast.
This movie is such a big movie with a lot of people in it, so you don’t get as much of the time that you’d like to have. But, it’s all good. We’ll see what happens.
Interestingly, this statement aligns with a photo Grillo posted in May, implying he had already finished shooting. Considering Grillo has a multi-picture contract with Marvel - and the fact that Crossbones is one of Captain America's most lethal foes, having assassinated the hero at the end of the 'Civil War' comic book arc - it's unlikely the Russo brothers would simply use him as one-and-done hired muscle; nor does it rule out the possibility of actually adapting said assassination, leading to Bucky Barnes (or even Falcon) assuming the stars and stripes mantle.
Of course, though, this does seem to confirm Rumlow will serve as a secondary antagonist in the film, rather than the mastermind behind everything. In the comics, the character is consistently depicted as a glorified henchman or lieutenant of the Red Skull's before eventually becoming the leader of the Skeleton Crew, an evil organization originally built by the Red Skull's operatives.
There is always the possibility that Civil War will
surprise us all completely blow our minds by featuring the Red Skull; however, the chances of that are about as slim as Iron Man 4 happening anytime soon, at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's development. As such, Zemo will likely replace Skull as Crossbones' commander.
Something else to consider is the possibility that Zemo, Crossbones, and Iron Man all stand on the same side, at least initially. In the wake of Age of Ultron, Tony Stark may be so concerned with creating a better, safer world (recognize a pattern?) that he goes so far as to recruit and/or work with the aforementioned antagonists to bring in Captain America. Of course, betrayal will follow suit and Stark will realize he made a mistake, leading to an attempt at redemption (recognize another pattern?).
Whatever happens, though, Crossbones will hopefully serve as a prominent foe in Civil War who could open the door to Red Skull's return down the line. And with MCU Phases planned past Infinity War, the chances of that are way less slim.
Ant-Man is in theaters now; Captain America: Civil War releases on May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.