The CinemaSins episode for Captain America: Civil War asks this question about the red book that is important to the movie:

This book that supposedly controls the Winter Soldier is introduced here, but wasn't referenced in Winter Soldier at all, and Zemo found it buried in some asshole's wall in Cleveland. So how did they control him in the last movie?

  • 7
    The book didn't control him, the code words in the book did. Just because we never see anyone use them in the first movie doesn't mean it didn't happen.
    – KutuluMike
    Oct 2, 2016 at 1:54
  • There seems to be more than one layer of brainwashing, as recovering his memory eas a separate thing.
    – Radhil
    Oct 2, 2016 at 3:44

2 Answers 2


The book appears to contain the codewords used by Vasily Karpov, but it isn't the book that controls him, it's the codewords.

Karpov evidently wrote them down in the book so that he'd remember them and so that others could activate the Winter Soldiers in his absence. That doesn't mean that Karpov (and others) couldn't simply have memorised the words or written them down on a scrap of paper.

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You might want to note that in the comics, his code words are seen to be used without the book

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  • 4
    Is there just one word in the comics to take control of the Winter Soldier? That might be awkward if someone talking about space history said the word in conversation. Oct 2, 2016 at 16:43
  • 3
    @Thunderforge - That seems to be a safeword to knock him out. You're right though that it's possibly a bit too common. Put it down to lazy writing.
    – Valorum
    Oct 2, 2016 at 17:35

He wasn't being controlled in the same way in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as he was in Captain America: Civil War.

We see in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he is controlled through the use of memory wipes. He doesn't know who he is, and as such he obeys orders because he may as well - but when given a good enough reason to rebel (such as recognising Steve Rogers), he does - and we see that in the finale of the film when he refuses to kill Steve.

In Captain America: Civil War, however, the trigger words "longing", "rusted", "seventeen", "daybreak", "furnace", "nine", "benign", "homecoming", "one" and "freight car" seem to force his compliance to orders. We see this in the prison break sequence of Captain America: Civil War - Bucky nearly kills several people on his way out of the compound (including Sharon Carter, Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff), despite the fact that he is resisting control right up until the final word is said, at which point it looks as if he completely loses control of his actions.

In short, there are two different ways of "controlling" The Winter Soldier that we see over the course of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.

  • This seems like a better answer here. In Winter Soldier, the scene with Bucky and Pierce after Bucky fights Rogers, Pierce tells the scientists there to wipe his brain. If they were using the code words to activate him, that would be an unnecessary step.
    – flamebaud
    Dec 20, 2017 at 3:15

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