It only takes a cursory glance at Henry Jackman’s filmography to realise he’s one of the best and most versatile film composers working today, having worked on animated fare such as Wreck-It Ralph, in addition to superhero blockbusters like X-Men: First Class and more recently, the as yet unreleased Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
We were lucky enough to speak with the composer on the phone for the home entertainment release of Captain Phillips (which he scored), and our conversation touched on his scoring process, epic superhero themes, a ‘treasure chest’ of music no one has ever heard before, and much more.
We’ll have the full interview online for you in the next couple days, but for now have a read below to see what he had to say about scoring Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
“The score I’ve done recently, Captain America…The reason I like it particularly is because it’s 50% production and all the tricks I’ve learnt from spending years in the record industry but then it’s also got the kind of injection of symphonic, thematic, heroic music that all kind of merges into one musical, and hopefully coherent piece”.
“You need a sort of perfect storm of circumstances to allow something radical to work in a film where you’re not just being self-conscious, where you’re not just trying to show off or whatever, and this [Captain America] was it. I can’t say too much because I know Marvel will shoot me, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a brilliant film that is part of the Marvel franchise but the directors John and Anthony Russo are geniuses. It’s a Marvel film that’s taking it one step further. They’ve made Captain America much more contemporary. The story is set in 2013, so it’s not a period film and it doesn’t have Indiana Jones style Nazis running around the place, it’s all set in the modern era and it’s a cross between a superhero and a modern political thriller so that’s already awesome”.
“What’s great about that is because it’s a Captain America film you need these traditional, thematic elements which eventually come through in act three of the film, but also the film is super-contemporary. Plus, Winter Soldier is this crazy, dark, RoboCop-type figure who is somewhat human but mechanised, completely messed up. Slightly human but completely tortured and completely manipulated, but crucially mechanised”.
“So I said you know what, I’m gonna do something completely crazy and dark for the Winter Soldier, and I’m just gonna go for it. I hadn’t worked with these directors before, and away from picture I just wrote a suite for the Winter Soldier that was about six or seven minutes long that I spent ages on and treated it like a record. The idea being that if I get this vibe right, if I nail this six or seven minute thing which I think is the essence of the character and it’s super radical and it’s not that traditional and not completely orchestral because I want to save some of that for Captain America, let’s just see what these guys say. I played it for them really loud, and after they were finished there was a bit of a silence, and then Joe [Russo] went “I love it! Awesome!” (laughs) What was really cool about it was that he said that piece was so great and unique and it doesn’t sound exactly like film music, do me a favour and don’t do that thing when once we start working on the movie it gets sanitised or watered down. Whatever it is I just heard, I really want to hear that in the movie and not just 20% of that in the film, and that gave me all the information I needed about how creatively brave these guys were and it works in the film, and I’m really proud of it. And this track that I’m talking about will be on the CD in it’s original form”.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is released in UK cinemas on 26 March, 2014.