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Avengers 4 Will Bring A Fan-Favorite Villain Back From The Dead In A Clever Way

There are a few rules to follow when traversing through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Never drink too much soda while watching a film, or else you'll dart for the restroom in the middle of an action scene and miss the biggest and best part of the showdown between the heroes and the villains. Always prepare for something terrible to happen to your favorite universe-saving vigilante (thanks for teaching us that one, Avengers: Infinity War). And, most importantly, remember that death isn't necessarily final, and that some goodbyes are really just "see you later"s. 

As it turns out, that last rule will apply to Avengers 4. We've just learned the Infinity War follow-up will bring a fan-favorite villain back from the dead in a super clever way. 

Speaking on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (via The Hollywood Reporter), actor Frank Grillo revealed that fans can expect to see him reprise his role as the Hydra-agent-slash-terrorist Brock Rumlow (also known as Crossbones) in the Marvel movie world, in Avengers 4

Now, some fans might be ahead of us here in thinking, "Wait, didn't Crossbones die via a desperate self-detonation at the start of Captain America: Civil War? How can he strut his super-villain stuff on Earth if he's six feet under?" Well, dear readers, Grillo's Crossbones will actually pop up in a flashback sequence in the next Avengers movie. As the actor simply explained, "[Crossbones] makes an appearance in the next Avengers movie. But it's a flashback."

Considering how secretive the MCU is and how protective Marvel Studios is over the expansive franchise's installments — including and most especially the Avengers movies — one would be forgiven if they initially thought Grillo's remarks were just two fibs to get the rumor mill churning again and send everyone into another speculation-fueled tizzy over Avengers 4. But that doesn't seem to be the case, as Grillo mentioned he can spill as many details as he'd like since he's not tied to a Marvel contract. 

"I'm allowed to say whatever I want because I'm never doing another Marvel movie," the actor stated, joking that the reason he's no longer riding the Marvel train is because he's too old. "I'm 117 years old," laughed Grillo. 

At one point, Grillo was certain that he was done playing Crossbones, and even implied that Marvel brass approached him about reprising the role but he ultimately turned the opportunity down. In January 2017, he shared with Collider during an interview about his status in James DeMonaco's Purge film series, in which Grillo portrays Leo Barnes (also known as "The Sergeant"), that he believed he was done with the horror franchise and the MCU alike. 

"If DeMonaco was still involved and they came up with a great idea, then I think I would do [another Purge movie]. Otherwise, I think I'm done. Same thing with Captain America. There's nowhere for it to go, unless you're Captain America or Iron Man. They were talking about it, but I was like, 'You know what? I'd just rather not do it,'" Grillo stated. "I'm so appreciative and grateful to have been a part of something that big. I'm appreciative of The Purge. It's become a part of the lexicon and the zeitgeist knows what it is, so that's been fun. But, it's time to move on. Don't stay at the party too long, or you get knocked through the ropes."

Apparently, something major shifted behind the scenes not long thereafter, since Grillo was singing a much different tune later that year. 

In September 2017, the actor let it slip during an interview with Forbes that he was potentially returning to the MCU. "It's great to be part of Marvel too, and I have three boys who are fanatical about Marvel, and I was surprised not too long ago because there is some news that nobody knows yet, to do with my character, that's going to be really interesting and I'm excited about that," said Grillo. 

Almost a year later, in July 2018, Grillo sparked even more rumors that he'd play a part in Avengers 4 when he took to Instagram and shared a collage photo of a Crossbones action figure with the caption, "Uhhhhh...... ok. I guess my life is complete. #CROSSBONES. #BROCKRUMLOW. @marvel #captainamericathewintersoldier #captainamericacivilwar #aven..........." 

Of course, those first two hashtags referenced Grillo's appearances in the second and third Captain America movies, but that half-done, cut-off-before-he-said-too-much third hashtag? Yeah, that was almost certainly a nod to Avengers 4

On the surface, Grillo's comments here simply confirm one plot point of Avengers 4: Crossbones will reappear in a flashback scene. But looking at the bigger picture, his remarks actually validate the longstanding fan theory that Avengers 4 will see the surviving heroes from Infinity War travel back in time to defeat Thanos (Josh Brolin) and obtain the Infinity Stones for themselves, both preventing the purple-faced despot from ever going on a wild goose chase for the gems to power the Infinity Gauntlet and effectively reversing the events of Infinity War. This theory first cropped up after fans got a peek at Avengers 4 set photos that showed Chris Evans wearing his Captain America costume from the Battle of New York sequence from 2012's Avengers

It's possible that the Avengers will bounce through the Quantum Realm to complete their mission, turning back the clock to a time prior to Captain America: Civil War — but that likely wouldn't be where audiences would see Crossbones again, since it wouldn't technically be a "flashback" but would rather be a do-over of previous events. 

That considered, perhaps Crossbones will resurface with the help of BARF. (Not that kind, kids.) There stands a chance that the superhero crew will use Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing (BARF) technology he showed off in Civil War to revisit the past with their minds without having to physically travel there. Maybe they'll go back to the moment when Crossbones died and explain how his passing pushed the United Nations to draft Sokovia Accords, the legal documents that allow international governments to keep an eye on individuals with enhanced physical capabilities or special abilities, namely the ones who work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and organizations like the Avengers team? Since Photographer Joe Passori was spotted someone carrying a BARF box on the Avengers 4 set, and since film's co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo once teased that a certain piece of tech from Civil War was "laid in for a very specific reason" and could give fans a hint as to what will happen in Avengers 4, this sounds like a fairly solid theory. 

As with anything that has even a tiny tie to the MCU, nothing is a guarantee until Marvel comes right out and says it is. Fans will, sadly, have to wait until Avengers 4 launches on May 3, 2019 to find out what will really happen.