Marvel’s Avengers: Crossbones, Explained | CBR

Marvel’s Avengers’ upcoming War for Wakanda update will feature Crossbones. Here’s what the villain’s comic book history could mean for the game.


Fans already knew that Marvel’s Avengers‘ long-awaited War for Wakanda update would see Black Panther square off against long-time comic nemesis Ulysses Klaue, but he’s not coming alone. The sadistic Crossbones will be joining Klaue in the mission, as revealed in early-access footage provided to CBR.

Created by legendary Captain America writer Mark Gruenwald and artist Kieron Dwyer, Brock Rumlow was introduced through a cameo in Captain America #359. His first full appearance took place in Captain America #362. Although he was initially a disciple of Marvel’s Avengers villain Taskmaster, he would be tied to another supervillain for most of his publication history: Red Skull. In fact, Captain America’s arch-enemy is the one who gave Rumlow his codename.

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Crossbones Opens Fire

Crossbones’ first full appearance came during the « Bloodstone Hunt » storyline. Under the Skull’s orders, he trailed Captain America and Baron Zemo during their attempt to acquire the mystical gems, taking them for the Skull when the opportunity arose. Failing at that job, Crossbones kidnapped Captain America’s partner Diamondback as a consolation prize to appease the Skull. Crossbones used Diamondback as bait to draw Captain America into a trap in Madripoor, though his plan ultimately failed. Still, that didn’t deter him from being a thorn in their side for years to come.

While a formidable adversary, Crossbones was never able to get the best of Captain America. That included the Captain’s first battle after the Super Soldier Serum was purged from his blood during the infamous « Streets of Poison » storyline. Defeating an opponent of Crossbones’s caliber without the serum’s enhancement convinced Captain America to continue his superheroic career without it.

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Crossbones’ rivalry with Captain America and Diamondback ultimately ended in his imprisonment after an unsuccessful attempt to brainwash Diamondback. After a long stretch in the Raft, he was able to escape during the prison break that led to the formation of the New Avengers. He quickly reunited with the Red Skull, partnering with his daughter Sin during Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s legendary Captain America run.

The Death Of Captain America

Crossbones played an integral role in the most controversial part of that run, Steve Rogers’ « death » in 2007’s Captain America #25. While Crossbones shot Captain America in the shoulder on Red Skull’s order, he didn’t deliver the killing blow, reserving that for a mind-controlled Sharon Carter. Crossbones would continue to bounce between jail and the Skull’s organization until the Skull’s attempt to hijack Steve Rogers body literally blew up in his face in Captain America: Reborn.

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The Skull’s defeat in Reborn led to Crossbones’ most significant role outside of his orbit: being a member of Luke Cage’s Thunderbolts team. Run by Cage and U.S. Agent-turned-prison warden John Walker, the team of hardened Marvel supervillains being given a shot at redemption felt like a riff on DC’s Suicide Squad.

The presence of an unrepentant neo-Nazi like Crossbones’ was meant to encourage the rest of team, which included seasoned veterans like Juggernaut and Moonstone, to reform. Regardless of whether he served as a cautionary tale to his teammates, Rumlow wound up back in prison after murdering a police officer.

Crossbones’ appearance in War for Wakanda could be a sign that Red Skull is on his way to Marvel’s Avengers. Skull is usually behind whatever Crossbones is up to, and it’s not hard to imagine him working with Klaue. Still, he could just be serving as hired muscle for Klaue. His brief presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his intimidating look would make Crossbones a great mid-boss even without his comics backstory.

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