Captain America: The Winter Soldier tops two of my personal lists: best Marvel movie and best Marvel soundtrack. The movie works because it’s a tight, expertly crafted super-spy movie with a ton of heart and great action. The soundtrack works because it’s constantly carrying the listener forward while perfectly reinforcing the movie’s signature scenes.
Since the movie came out it’s been one of my go-to soundtracks at work and the gym; I listen to it when I’m focused on projects and certain tracks have become an integral component of my work out playlists.
The soundtrack opens with the surging track “Lemurian Star”, which corresponds to the movie scene where Captain American and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team engage mercenaries who’ve captured a spy ship and are holding the S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives inside hostage. It’s a fast-moving track that always helps to launch me into my routine, whether it’s at my desk or on a run.
“Project Insight” is a stirring, vaguely patriotic track during which Nick Fury introduces Cap to the triumverate of next-generation helicarriers that represent Project Insight. It starts off strong, but fades near the end, leading into “The Smithsonian”, a slow, stately track representing Captain America walking through his own museum exhibit. It’s my most skipped over track because it usually breaks my growing momentum. The second most skipped track is “An Old Friend”, which is another sentimental, slow-moving piece. There’s nothing wrong with either of these in the context of the movie, but for my purposes they’re deadwood.
Things kick back into high gear with “Fury” as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best spy comes under attack by rogue forces within the organization. It’s chaotic and intense, hitting you from every side. This is followed up by the slowly increasing tension of “The Winter Soldier”. It starts with wavering strains of music that erupt into percussions (and in doing so becomes one of the score’s signature tracks … this track is the Winter Solider). This can be a hard track to listen to; while I love it within the context of the movie, I skip it if I’ve got a headache or need to focus.
The soundtrack kicks it into high gear with the final tracks: “Time to Suit Up”, “Into the Fray”, “Countdown”, and “End of the Line”. These correspond to the film’s climax and I’ve used them to power through more than a few projects.
“Time to Suit Up” begins slow, at Cap contemplates taking the war against Hydra before accelerating with a rising action that leads directly to “Into the Fray”, a tense, fast-paced track coresponding with the team’s assault on the Insight helicarriers. It’s the sort of track that gives you chills while listening to it because it so perfectly matches the onscreen action. It then smashes into a rehash of the jarring themes from “The Winter Soldier” as its namesake makes his appearence. It’s easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Then we get to “Countdown”, which starts off with militant drums and more echoes of the “The WInter Soldier”. It ends on a more subdued note as the big action scene runs down, setting up somber “End of the Line“, which is filled with mournful strings.
The last cinematic instrumental track, “Captain America” restates many of the basic themes. As such, it’s an excellent final track, one that brings to mind all that has come before, while it’s repeated, rapid-fire diminuendos still get the blood pumping.
“It’s Been a Long, Long Time” by Harry James and His Orchestra, with vocalist Kitty Kallen complementing the orchestra, is from one of the movie’s flashback scenes. It’s here for completeness’ sake and while it’s a fine song, I didn’t really need it on the soundtrack.
That said, “Trouble Man” by Marvin Gaye most definitely needs to be on this soundtrack. It overlays one of my favorite parts of the movie — the series of scenes that show what everyone does after the fall of Hydra — and it always smile to my face when I hear it (particuarly after blasting through a mountain of email; when I get to this part of the soundtrack, I know I’m done with whatever task I was battling with). I also love the phrase “there’s only three things that are for sure: taxes, death and trouble”.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fantastic soundtrack and easily the best that Marvel has to offer.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier Soundtrack
- Original Release Date: April 1, 2014
- Label: Hollywood Records
- Buy it from Amazon.com
Featured Image Meta
- Album cover art for the Captain America: Winter Soldier soundtrack. Credit: Hollywood / Marvel Music.