What Do Bucky's Winter Soldier Activation Words Mean? The Code Is As Mysterious As The Character's Past

Poor Bucky. Will we ever fully understand Captain America's BFF? Thankfully, the most mysterious member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets a bit more of his history revealed in Captain America: Civil War when his past is glimpsed in a series of flashbacks. We already knew that he was somehow brainwashed by Hydra and turned into a kind of super soldier, but Civil War peels back the veil even more and reveals the activation words that cause Bucky to become the Winter Soldier, turning the beloved c from the snarky charmer fans know and love into a cold-blooded killing machine. But what do these words mean? 

In Civil War, the words are spoken in Russian, but are thankfully translated via subtitles. The sequence is as follows: Longing, rusted, furnace, daybreak, seventeen, benign, nine, homecoming, one, freight car. The movie never gives any explanation as to why these words are chosen, and fans of the comics will be scratching their heads as well since this sequence does not appear in Marvel comic books either. At first glance, it would appear to be a completely random collection of words — put together so that it would be virtually impossible to activate the Winter Soldier without knowing the sequence. But are they random? Check out the breakdown of the words below, and the possible meaning behind each one.

1. Longing

This could be symbolic of Bucky's constant state. He, like Cap, is a man out of time — but it's worse than that. He has been forced to live the life of his greatest enemies, and he regrets it constantly. Because of this, he is always longing for the past, wishing to go back to a time before the war and long before he ever became the Winter Soldier. 

2. Rusted

It's a bit of a stretch, but this could be symbolic of what Bucky would be without Hydra (especially his metal arm). He should be very old and near death, but thanks to their preservation of him, he is fit as a fiddle.

3. Furnace

A threat of what Hydra will do to Bucky should he ever defect? A clue as to how his metal arm was forged? This one is a little tricky.

4. Daybreak

Could easily be symbolic of a new life for Bucky. Bucky Barnes is dead; reborn as the Winter Soldier. It's a new day, a new dawn, and a new beginning for the character.

5. Seventeen

The first of three numbers in the sequence, this could be a reference to Bucky's birth year. In the cannon comic prequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: First Vengeance, Bucky is 13 years old. The story takes place in 1930, meaning he would have been born in 1917.

6. Benign

Benign basically means something that is not a threat, something that is dormant. This is the state Bucky is in during his cryostasis before being activated.

7. Nine

The second number in the sequence is almost certainly a reference to Hydra itself. In Greek mythology, the hydra has nine heads. Nine is also the number of digits in Arnim Zola's name. Zola became the de-facto leader of Hydra after the Red Skull's death, and he also was their lead scientist who designed the Winter Soldier project.

8. Homecoming

Most fans believe this word is a reference to the next Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, as the webslinger makes his debut in the film.

9. One

The third and final number in the sequence could mean a lot of things, but since Bucky is the first member of the Winter Soldier program, I think that's probably what they're referring to. 

10. Freight Car

In his last act before being turned into the Winter Soldier, Bucky falls from the freight car of a train into a freezing river hundreds of feet below. This word seems to be referencing that act, recalling where he was when his old identity perished.

These are my best guesses for why Hydra chose the words they did to activate the Winter Soldier. Am I correct? I have no idea, but these all seem like perfectly logical reasons to me.

Images: Walt Disney Pictures; giphy.com; love-buckybarnes/Tumblr; cesareduardo3112/Tumblr; caarlan/Tumblr; blackinjustice/Tumblr

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