The Marvel Cinematic Universe squandered two villains introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier by failing to provide acceptable endings for Baron Strucker and Crossbones. Pitted Steve Rogers against Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier and a resurrected Hydra in the second episode of Chris Evans’ Captain America trilogy. Since the film’s ending hinted at Bucky’s heroic transformation, Captain America: The Winter Soldier teased two potential foes for Steve and the Avengers. It includes post-credits previews for Brock Rumlow as Crossbones and the arrival of Baron Strucker.
After Captain America: The Winter Soldier, people expected Crossbones and Baron Strucker to play significant roles in the MCU. The casting of Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow immediately hinted at his probable comeback and makeover as a strong Marvel villain. At the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Rumlow is still alive but severely injured. The Russos even had the character’s clothing hint at the Crossbone’s turn in the future. The post-credits scene also hinted that Baron Strucker would play a role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, hinting at him as a big threat to the Avengers.
After Winter Soldier, the MCU killed Strucker and Crossbones too soon.
Instead of playing key roles in future MCU installments, Baron Strucker and Crossbones both killed within minutes of their next appearances. The Avengers: Age of Ultron failed the comics’ Hydra chief by rapidly defeating him. Ultron then killed him and used his death to taunt the Avengers due to his failure. Given Strucker’s entrance as one of Hydra’s last vestiges, possessing Loki’s scepter, and being responsible for granting Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch powers, his death so early in Avengers: Age of Ultron gives the villain no chance to create a lasting impression.
Similarly, Crossbones died in Captain America: Civil War’s opening mission scenario. The film finally offered Frank Grillo the opportunity to don the Crossbones suit and battle Captain America, but the combat ended when he detonated a bomb in his suit. The Russos had acknowledged that Crossbones was supposed to have a more substantial role in the initial plans for Captain America 3 before it became Civil War and Robert Downey Jr. joined on. While Grillo did have the opportunity to return briefly in Avengers: Endgame, his brief appearance as Crossbones was a letdown.
Marvel has already passed up a golden opportunity for Strucker’s return.
The MCU squandered Strucker and Crossbones’ MCU potential and missed the perfect place for Baron Strucker to return. Because of his involvement in Wanda Maximoff’s origin, Thomas Kretschmann could have reprised the role in WandaVision. The Disney+ series included flashbacks to the Scarlet Witch’s childhood and the development of her powers. The absence of Baron Strucker from these scenes was conspicuous. WandaVision would have been the ideal venue to see him again, with the show’s episodic format potentially allowing the MCU to expand the underutilized character even further.
The expansion of the MCU cosmos provides the MCU with limitless options to reintroduce any character in new ways, although these types of appearances are not as impactful. A return of Baron Strucker through the multiverse could be fascinating if he is shown with his full powers and leading Hydra, but that doesn’t change the reality that he is a different version of the character shown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. A return in WandaVision could have helped to further the character’s journey.