With [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) now out, I'm working through a series examining some of the secondary characters in the film. Today, I figured I'd turn my eye to one of the villains of the movie - Frank Grillo's Crossbones!
Who is Crossbones?
In the comics, Crossbones is one of the most dangerous mercenaries in the Marvel Universe. He's a lethal assassin who's gone head-to-head against Captain America many times, and come within an inch of killing him. Interestingly enough, his most recent arc revealed that he was an Inhuman. Exposed to the Terrigen Mist, Crossbones developed deadly energy-blasting abilities that only made him more of a threat. He's about to get a power-up, becoming one of the leaders of the newest incarnation of Hydra.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe version is very, very different. Crossbones started off as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a member of the elite S.T.R.I.K.E. team. Over the course of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we gradually learned that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been compromised decades ago by Hydra; the S.T.R.I.K.E. team were all Hydra agents. Crossbones was caught up in the destruction of the Triskellion, and though he survived he was badly burned.
Where does Captain America: Civil War pick up?
It seems that Crossbones' Hydra connections looked after him. His broken body has been transformed by cybernetic experiments, and he's since gone on a terrorist rampage. For at least six months he's been launching high-profile attacks, although he seems to have cut off ties with the shattered Hydra. The film shows his latest strike, an attempt to steal a deadly bioweapon and sell it to the highest bidder.
Crossbones' motivation has changed. He seems to have personally called the Avengers out, now motivated by a desire for vengeance against the people who dropped a building on him! He always knew where this would lead him; he came prepared to become a martyr.
How well does this play out?
There's a sense in which all this is anticlimatic. Crossbones is a powerful villain in the comics, and seeing him disposed of so swiftly is disappointing. At the same time, Civil War's character is an intriguing one. The film shows a version of Crossbones who is motivated purely by a desire for revenge, and in so doing makes Crossbones an unexpected consequence of Captain America's actions. That subtle detail ties him into two central themes of the film; power and consequences, and the destruction caused by men who seek revenge.
The cybernetic enhancements are a fascinating, but necessary, detail. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the power-levels of the superheroes are gradually undergoing 'power creep'. However well-trained Crossbones may be, to go toe-to-toe with the MCU Captain America he needs to be more than just a man.
All in all, Civil War handles Crossbones effectively - but hardly spectacularly. Given the fun Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is having with the Inhumans right now, I can't help thinking the character should have been kept alive in order to make his entry into that series as an Inhuman.