Who Hired Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War? (A Spotted! Tie-In)

The year 2016 for superhero movies is about to come to a close with Marvel's latest magical release Doctor Strange this November, although it is set for an earlier release date in other countries such as here in the Philippines. So far, all of the movies, ranging from the adult-comedic superhero antithesis Deadpool, to the supervillain caper flick Suicide Squad, as well as the three movies which feature superheroes battling each other to the death, have lived-up to a lot of audiences' expectations. Since there is not much scoops to work on for a Spotted! post, let us try to create concrete theories for movie plot holes. In this case, Dateline Movies begs the question, "Who hired Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War?".

Spotted!: Hidden Surprises and Trivia (Spoiler Alert!)

In Captain America: Civil War, we see that Crossbones, tired of being a lackey for the likes of HYDRA, decides to assemble a team of mercenaries to raid the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Lagos, Nigeria. The villain's primary objective is to steal a currently unnamed biological agent from the facility. However, that is not the only thing that he has in mind, because he is aiming to do battle once more with the man who "dropped a building on my (his) face", the star-spangled Avenger, Captain America!

After a chase all throughout Lagos, Crossbones and Captain America finally fight as the Falcon and the rest of the Avengers manage to safely obtain the virus before it starts an epidemic from the rest of Crossbones' allies. With Captain America beating him, Crossbones pulls one more trick up his sleeve, and that is by detonating his rigged vest, causing an explosion that would kill not only Captain America, but about a quarter of a populate area. Fortunately, the Scarlet Witch was there to contain then displace the explosion in the air, but the range of the bomb destroyed a nearby Wakandan building. Crossbones is killed, and the virus is never heard of again in the movie.

In this introductory battle of the flick, it is very much clear that all Crossbones wants is to kill Captain America, and nothing else, so why go through all the trouble to organize a theft of an item that has absolutely no connection to your plans? Also, where could he possibly get the new gear and the additional manpower? It is safe to assume that Crossbones is working for someone else, and that someone else hired Crossbones to perform a sinister act for a bigger plan. Below are our possible candidates for Crossbones' anonymous benefactor.

0th Candidate: Himself (?)

What is that? Crossbones was never a pawn for anyone in the first place and that he just assembled a team of henchmen and obtained a new battle armor himself? It is possible, because why not? Crossbones, probably in his days as a HYDRA soldier disguised as a SHIELD agent, might have had some connections with various underworld elements, including bounty hunters and terrorist organizations. And through those connections, he might have simply asked for a favor, and granted that he infiltrated SHIELD before, he might have tracked down some interesting weapons hidden away by SHIELD long ago.

But you might still wonder, why would Crossbones hit this specific laboratory in the first place? I mean, he could just cause a ruckus somewhere in New York City, where the Avengers are nearby, or why not just hit them where they live, their own headquarters? Well, it is possible that the pathogenic weapon of mass destruction is actually the Zodiac. In a tie-in issue to the franchise that before SHIELD was dismantled, Captain America, Black Widow and pre-Crossbones Brock Rumlow tracked down a terrorist cell lead by a man named Baker who stole the Zodiac, and plans to unleash a plague all over Chicago. Given that Captain America knows how much damage the Zodiac can potentially cause, there is no doubt that Crossbones is aware on how fast the Avengers will respond to the scene.

But again, if Crossbones is only fixated in the death of Captain America, why not just attack their base of operations, or maybe, at least his house, where he is alone? And why even bother securing a weapon that does not even add up to your master plan?

1st Candidate(s): The Remnants of HYDRA

Ever since Captain America: The First Avenger, HYDRA has made quite an influence over the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is much more evident in their orchestration of Project Insight in the aforementioned movie's follow-up. Time and time again, defeat after defeat, HYDRA simply does not know when to give-up, and they just stand back up with a new master plan for world domination, and a new set of leaders to guide the organization's evil intents. Even after their entire membership has been killed in the television program Agents of SHIELD, there is always a slim chance that they will come back. Besides, there are many agents in the collective that are hiding in their secret bases, plotting their revenge. This just makes them the perfect candidate as Crossbones' benefactors, right? Wrong!

It is revealed in another tie-in that after Project Insight was dismantled indefinitely by Captain America, The Falcon, Black Widow and Nick Fury, Crossbones became disillusioned to the point that he is fed-up with his ties with HYDRA. To express his rage, he sets up an arms deal with other members of HYDRA, and shoots all of his unsuspecting victims in plain sight. Even if HYDRA gives him a new battle suit and a needed motivation to pull-off a heist like that, it is very doubtful that Crossbones would even think of joining them ever again given the circumstances.

Source 1, Source 2
2nd Candidate(s): Thaddeus Ross / Everett K. Ross

The one thing we learned so far from Captain America: The Winter Soldier is that the governments of this universe will always have ulterior motives, and would often resort to drastic measure to obtain their shady aims. This is the likely case for either Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross or Everett K. Ross. And no, they are not related here or in the comics.

In "Thunderbolt" Ross' case, he has had experience with fighting an Avenger before, namely the Incredible Hulk. With the experience, he knows what it is like to face a powerful superhero in the past. As such, we can conclude that "Thunderbolt" Ross orchestrated this attack so as to push forward the Sokovia Accords, which is a panel that demands superhero accountability in response to the devastating aftermath that was seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, this is also very unlikely, as doing this would make this character hypocritical to what he stands for, and thus makes him an improbable figure; although this can be justified as Ross once became duplicitous before due to his involvement with the creation of the Hulk villain Abomination, played by Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) in The Incredible Hulk.

Everett K. Ross, on the other hand, has a large probability percentage as he is still new to the franchise, and is a relatively unknown supporting character in the comics who is bound to be changed even just a little bit (Hey it is expected in every adaptation). While there have been theories pointing out that Ross is actually the Red Skull in disguise, I believe that this is not the case. Provided that we know almost nothing about the character from a moviegoer's perspective, we can assume that he has a similar potential motivation as the other Ross'. According to some viewers, in the scene wherein we see Zemo incarcerated, and is being monitored by Everett K. Ross, Zemo cryptically mentions that his plans has not failed. The look on Ross' face could signal that Ross might have plans on his own. Okay, this speculation is off the rails, and it is probably just a normal facial expression of his. Then again, only time will tell who Everett K. Ross really is.

3rd Candidate: Col. Helmut Zemo

It is made clear in the movie that Helmut Zemo does not want anything to do with HYDRA after the terrorist assembly's actions in Sokovia, his homeland, before. However, given that both Crossbones and Zemo hate not only HYDRA, but also the Avengers, there is a major chance that the two might have collaborated in a way that is just not fully explored in the movie.

According to user "Nerdtastic1221" on a comment of his in the franchise's own fan-made database, which is also a somewhat pitch for a short film, Zemo hears a lot about Crossbones' crusades, and he hires him to steal the biological weapon in Lagos. This way, based on Zemo's knowledge on the current political climate surrounding the superhero community, a chain reaction of events that would have the heroes destroy each other would hopefully occur. Crossbones agrees. However, Zemo tells Crossbones that he has to make himself a target of the Avengers for the team to have a reason to catch him.

As such, Crossbones assassinates his former HYDRA subordinate Jack Rollins, played by Callan Mulvey (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) in his prison cell, who is discovered to be selling HYDRA intelligence to the government for a swifter prison release. Crossbones then poses for a security camera for Captain America to find, and Zemo provides new weapons and enough manpower, assuming that he had several EKO Scorpion allies that are just as angry as he is towards the Avengers.

Personally, this is my most favorite theory that I have researched so far, because mainly, this is well thought of, although the user did not mention the part about Zemo's former contacts. And the fact that this is pitched by a fan as a Marvel One-Shot, which is a short film usually available for viewing in a Marvel movie's DVD release, only makes this idea very engaging and interesting. However, there are many more candidates to choose from, and the biological weapon again does not add up to the plan, so we will have to skim the other possibilities available.
4th Candidate(s): Advanced Idea Mechanics

Remember the Advanced Idea Mechanics? Yeah, the evil think-tank that made the world believe that the Mandarin is organizing terrorist attack but in reality they are just attempting to cash in on their Extremis virus through terror? Yep, that AIM. Well it appears that after Iron Man's defeat over the science-dedicated society, AIM has taken a massive blow to their economic status and their supervillain reputation.

According to user "Carlos Rosario (Lone Lez)" of Moviepilot, Crossbones knew that he would have cheated death twice after blowing himself up, as through him undergoing experimentation with the Extremis virus, he would be able to resurrect and appear as if he just disintegrated in the blast. Not only would he have got the chance to kill his nemesis, he would also have a chance to continue his pursuit of a life of crime.

But what would AIM get in return for starting a new pandemic in Lagos? Just imagine, a group of scientists that has an array of technology and possibly enough knowledge in every single branch of science imaginable, especially the field of medicine, plus a seemingly incurable disease on the rise. What do you get? A booming business run by malevolent geniuses would be the end result.

After reading about this theory, it just came to my mind on how credible this can be, given that it would be a really tragic waste of Crossbones if the studios were to kill him off immediately after getting a new alter ego. Yes, Marvel has had a villain problem recently, but after some major shift in their management system, it would appear that Marvel is aiming to create better foils for our heroes, starting with Zemo. In addition, this would be a great reintroduction to AIM, despite being a pretty cliched plan.

5th Candidate: Erik Killmonger

However, I think AIM did not orchestrate this caper entirely, or at least not alone. While it was previously mentioned that AIM is "aiming" to kickstart this generation's version of the Black Death, I doubt that that is the goal all along. The writers of the movie might be foreshadowing a possibility for one of their future releases, specifically Black Panther. This is supported by the fact that the bombing was done in a Wakandan facility, which is not the Institute For Infectious Diseases, mind you, which can be said is done on purpose by the writers. This is, of course, aside from giving a reason for Black Panther's involvement in the movie.

Does this mean that a villain we have not even met has masterminded all of this? Yes, but it is merely a possibility. So who do we point the finger at? Well it is none other than the newbie villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who is to be played by Michael B. Jordan (FANT4STIC) in the Wakandan King's upcoming solo outing. For those who do not know who Killmonger is, he is a Wakandan native who moved out of the nation due to his hatred towards Ulysses Klaw, who is played by Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and coerced Killmonger's father into joining his plot to kill Black Panther's father in the comics, as well as the Black Panther's legacy in general.

In the case of this adaptation, we might see a slightly different origin story, wherein Ulysses Klaue (It is spelled differently in the movies) had no involvement whatsoever with the demise of Killmonger's father, given that Klaue did not have any connection in Black Panther's father's death. That honor goes to Zemo. In the forthcoming entry, we can see that Erik Killmonger and Ulysses Klaue are planning to overthrow Black Panther from the throne of Wakanda, with Killmonger planning to become the better ruler of the sovereign country, and Klaue gunning for the Vibranium mines. But in order to get pass Wakanda's security forces, the two evildoers have to use a weapon instead of an army, and what better weapon is there than a viral strain? AIM can also be factored into this insidious plot, as they can provide some men for Killmonger and Klaue to command, and some arms to use, and AIM can grab this opportunity to increase their funds like our previous theory.

Well we have come to an end with our latest Spotted! post of the year, and this year has been surprisingly devoid of a lot of Spotted! articles compared to last year. For one thing, there is not a lot of movies to tackle, but we are making one each for Wonder Woman, Justice League and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We might as well add Kong: Skull Island and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, but the latter one I could use some help from of my bookish buddies in school. Anyway, before we exit, here are some of the best outtakes and bloopers from Captain America: Civil War. The Captain may have broken his no bad language vow, but please you do not have to. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


  1. I think it is the task master , i just have a gut feeling it is him.

  2. Crossbones says that it was caps 'old pal bucky'. That would have to mean it was zemo wearing his bb face prosthetic that hired crossbones.