A character from Cap's past is returning in Avengers 4 - but he's adamant it's a "flashback" instead of time travel

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Avengers 4 was always going to give us the chance to say hello to some long-departed friendly and, in this case, not so friendly faces. One of Captain America’s biggest MCU foes has confirmed for the first time that they’re going to be rocking up. There’s just one big sticking point: they’re dead. Time travel should sort that out, right? Except it might not be that obvious.

Frank Grillo, who played HYDRA operative Brock ‘Crossbones’ Rumlow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War has confirmed via the UFC Unfiltered podcast (H/T MCU Cosmic) that he’d be returning for a third appearance in Avengers 4.

“[Crossbones] makes an appearance in [Avengers 4], but it’s a flashback,” Grillo reveals. While he’s probably wary of letting spoilers slip out (I’m looking at you, Gwyneth Paltrow), there’s a very pointed reference to “flashback” here rather than time travel. Which is… interesting.

Sure, it could mean Grillo is keeping his cards close to his chest, lest Marvel swoop in and take him out mid-podcast, but we could actually be getting something in the past away from time travel. Crossbow, after all, was a hugely complex character with a large amount of double-crosses on his rap sheet. Maybe he knows something no one else does?

Digging into that and setting up a moment via flashback – maybe a scene in the past between Steve Rogers and Brock - that echoes back to Cap’s big mistake in not stopping Crossbow from detonating a suicide vest during Civil War may help further flesh out both Cap and Crossbow.

Or, it could just be plain ol’ time travel. Crossbow’s attack in Lagos helped kickstart the tension between the Avengers and, if it can be rectified, Steve Rogers is likely to do just that. Me, personally? I hope it’s just a flashback. Zipping from moment to moment in the past to clear up mistakes could mean one too many retcons – even for the MCU.

Want some more MCU whispers? Here's what some of the stars have had to say about the Avengers 4 ending.