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Soundtrack review: Captain America – The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman – 2014)

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Soundtrack review: Captain America – The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman – 2014)



Every time a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie comes out, the score is subject to great debate. Many have tried but few have succeeded in delivering a universally acclaimed score for such a movie. Things seem to have settled now, because Brian Tyler is owning the franchise. But when he doesn’t write the music, problems arise…

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is one of the most polarizing scores of 2014. For many, it was an incomprehensible mess. I haven’t listened to it when it came out and all these opinions where possibly altering my experience with it. I had enjoyed Alan Silvestri’s theme for the first movie, and I loved most of Henry Jackman’s work, so the premises were there for an enjoyable score.

The first four cues passed without registering. Ok, this happens…but then “Fury” came. I hoped it was just a glitch. Then “The winter soldier” started…I get weird themes. I understand the need for them and I enjoy them when the composer really knows how to deliver them. But there’s good weird, plain weird and bad weird. ”The winder soldier” falls into the last category. This cue sounded like the Joker theme from “The dark knight” deconstructed and put back together in a way that would make Frankenstein’s monster look cute. Unfortunately, with a theme like this, I had a hard time believing the score and enjoying its moment of brilliance.

And there are such moments in “The winter soldier”. For example “Fallen” is an interesting atmospheric cue. When Henry Jackman doesn’t try to experiment with weird stuff, the cues are enjoyable. “Taking a stand” is a ray of light that I would have liked to have seen expanded upon. My biggest problem with this score was that there are no themes to take away. The “Hydra” experiment fails as well, there’s nothing but silence in this cue.

“Captain America: The winter soldier” isn’t a bad score. It is just a sort of failed experiment. When this score is over, all I’m left with is the weirdness and a slight discomfort provided by some of the tracks…Most of the time, this score sounded as if I tried to catch a radio station on the dial for an hour and only managed to get a clean sound for about ten scattered minutes…

Cue rating: 60 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 66

Album excellence: 11%



Taking a stand

End of the line


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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  1. Francisco Rodrigues 14th December 2015

    I think this soundtrack works excellently in the film. Unlike other soundtracks, more theme based and with stronger leitmotifs made for the heroic or adventure film, this is a soundtrack for a thriller.
    The point of it is to rack up the tension. It’s not the first Captain America film, with the pomp of Silvestri’s score and heroic marches.
    Watching the scene when “Fury” plays, or “The Causeway”, it’s genuine mix of danger, tension and action.
    Think more, the famous shootout scene in Heat, and less the final stand in Avengers.
    I watched the film first so I link what I’m listening to a scene in the film and like the ost, but having said that I agree that as a standalone record, it’s not the easiest of listens.
    So I would rate it 6/10 as a standalone but 8/10 with the film.

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 14th December 2015

      Agreed. I watched the movie twice and loved the score much more in context. It made more sense, it fit!

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