Monday, May 16, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (Jackman, 2016)

     The Marvel Cinematic Universe film, "Captain America: Civil War", wraps up threads begun in the 2 previous Captain America films and the 2 previous Avengers films, and here film composer Henry Jackman returns from "Captain America: Winter Soldier" (the first time a composer has returned to the same hero film in a Marvel film series).  Since there are so many characters in this film, it was apparently impractical to juggle individual themes for 17 characters, so instead Jackman chose to concentrate more on brief textural elements to represent a character, and to simplify the opposing forces into "heroic" and "tragic" themes.  At its heart, the film is about a secret which destroys the friendship between 2 protagonists.  There is really no "world-threatening super-villain" to defeat, so the darker themes tend to be more melancholic than actually sinister.

     Since the action in the film is more in the vein of a colorful hero punch-up than a spy thriller, the themes which Jackman developed in Winter Soldier only reappear briefly in this film.  However as mentioned, there are several new motifs/instrumental colors which are laced throughout the sequences and are meant to evoke the main character interactions or arrivals.
  • Hero Motif: Rising 3-note fanfare-ish figure, sometimes falling back down on the same notes, and sometimes as a variant up-down figure.
  • Civil War Motif: Falling 4-note figure, repeated and modulated, with a tragic color.
  • Hydra Motif: Wavering 7 note figure, ending on a down note.
  • Black Panther Motif: overblown wooden flute, muted trombone accents.
  • Zemo Motif: Tuned metal percussion and cimbalom figures.
  • Winter Soldier Motif: Drone leading to dissonant sound design textures (almost "crying").
  • Spider-Man Motif: Rapid rising-falling triplet figure, swirling.

     One of the unexpected choices made for the music of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (now spanning 13 films) is that the scores have no real unifying melodic element.  I think this is because one of the underlying strategies of the franchise is to treat each film as its own genre entity, although with certain superhero tropes.  For example, Ant-Man and Captain America: Winter Soldier are 2 examples of very different genre styles (comedy-heist and conspiracy-thriller).  I have to admit it's pretty brave of Marvel to play such a "long game", but in retrospect it seems to be working (though I personally would have preferred more of a thematic thread...).

Trk Dur Title Film Sequence
1 2:56 Siberian Overture 0:00: In 1991, the Winter Soldier (Bucky) is woken up from deep sleep and activated with code words (Hydra motif in flute/strings/etc. with high string drone, swelling brass/strings figures).
1:36: At night, the Winter Soldier stalks and attacks a car.  Winter Soldier obtains its cargo from the trunk (Winter Soldier motif, brass swell).
2:25: Opening titles (brass fanfare over rhythmic strings).
2 2:10 Lagos 0:00: In Lagos, the Avengers scout the area for terrorists (rhythmic strings/synth).  Captain America (Steve) is suspicious of a truck (Hero motif variant in horns).
0:50: The truck rams into a biological containment center.  Henchmen shoot gas into the building (brass slams with martial rhythms and electronics).
1:22: Captain America leaps into the scene and begins attacking the terrorists.  The Avengers follow suit (Hero motif developed).
1:42: Black Widow (Natasha) chases thugs in the market (action brass/violins over syncopated low string accents, swell).
3 2:21 Consequences 0:00: Secretary Ross tells the Avengers that they are dangerous (poignant strings over timpani, Hero motif rising-falling variant in low winds, strings).
1:22: He shows video of destruction wreaked from their previous adventures (somber string figures, muted brass).
4 2:36 Ancestral Call 0:00: (alternate mix) In the aftermath of the Vienna bombing, Natasha speaks with T'Challa (the Black Panther) about death and vengeance (percussive ambient textures, tense brass/strings, Black Panther motif (harp tremolo/wooden flute/muted trombone accent), poignant strings).
1:50: Natasha warns Steve to stay out of the situation (staccato string rhythm/swelling brass and Hero motif).
5 3:09 Zemo 0:00: Zemo breaks into the house of a former Hydra agent and disables him (low suspense strings/brass).
0:31: He interrogates the former agent and kills him when he doesn't comply (Zemo motif (cimbalom tremolo, later distant metal percussion) and Hydra motif (briefly on flute), dissonant strings, hint of Winter Soldier pulsing texture).
6 3:51 The Tunnel 0:00: Captain America and the Black Panther chase the Winter Soldier on foot and in vehicles through an underground tunnel (syncopated string rhythm with muted brass accents, string tremoli, drums, Panther motif on wood flute, Hero motif, etc.).
3:02: All are arrested when War Machine (Rhodey) arrives (Civil War motif on falling strings).  The Black Panther takes off his helmet (brass fanfare).
7 1:44 Celestial Bodies 0:00: (unused) Vision tries to cook for Wanda.   They discuss the mysteries behind their powers (high textures with bell-like ornaments playing rising-falling Hero motif variant).
1:10: Vision prevents Wanda from leaving the facility (somber strings).
8 5:16 Boot Up 0:00: A package is delivered near power lines.  Steve suspects that Bucky was framed.  Zemo begins interrogating Bucky (low syncopated synth pulse, bells (Zemo motif)). 
1:08: The package takes out the electricity at the holding facility.  Steve decides to help Bucky escape.  Zemo begins using Hydra code words to activate the Winter Soldier program and Bucky begins smashing his way out of his cage (pulse figure developed on strings joined by Hydra flute motif/Winter Soldier electronic motif/Zemo cimbalom motif, building brass)
2:33: A mesmerized Bucky answers Zemo's questions (subdued low texture).  Flashback to Bucky attacking the car in 1991 and obtaining super-soldier formula (Winter Soldier motif).
3:01: (alternate mix) Hydra agents are injected with the serum and are transformed.  They are tested against the Winter Soldier and go berserk (Winter Soldier motif developed with more "crying", Hydra motif on flute, dark brass, slams/distressed choir).
9 1:47 A New Recruit 0:00: Tony Stark (Iron Man) questions Peter Parker (Spider-Man) in his room and offers to upgrade his suit (soft winds over strings, Hero motif developed in trumpet, piano, winds/brass, ending in rhythmic Spider-Man motif, Hero motif).
10 1:59 Stepping Up 0:00: Hawkeye helps Wanda escape from the Vision's supervision, despite her hesitation (string rhythms, wind/string trills, martial snare, action brass, etc).  Wanda eventually gives in and causes the Vision to sink through the building (string tremoli/Civil War motif in fateful brass).
11 4:01 Standoff 0:00: Steve is confronted by Iron Man and War Machine at the airport (Hero motif fanfare, Civil War motif, tremolo strings).  The Panther arrives (Panther motif on wooden flute, swelling suspense textures). 
1:11: Spider-Man arrives (swirling Spider-Man motif).  Ant-Man appears and the fighting starts around the airport in different terminal locations (action rhythms on strings/brass accents, Hero motif and variants).
12 4:26 Civil War 0:00: The Vision arrives and halts Captain America's group (held choir and strings).  They are confronted by Iron Man's group.  They run towards each other (fateful brass/drums, layers of string and brass groups pitted against each other).
0:53: Fighting starts again, this time confined to the tarmac (Civil War motif in tragic brass becoming Hero motif, developed into various action figures).
13 3:40 Larger Than Life 0:00: Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man so that Steve and Bucky can make a run for it (rising-falling Hero motif variant in brass, action rhythms with swirling ornaments, Panther motif, Civil War motif variations).
2:32: Natasha confronts Steve at the Quinjet, but lets him go (Civil War motif in poignant strings, tremolo figures).  Spidey, Iron Man and War Machine knock down Ant-Man (swirling figures with Hero motif variants ending in rising-falling version).
14 2:36 Catastrophe 0:00: Tony tells Spider-Man to go home (subdued winds, Hero motif variants).
0:26: Natasha prevents the Panther from stopping Cap from taking off (Civil War motif in poignant falling strings, joined by brass/winds).  Vision apologizes to Wanda.  Vision accidentally takes out Rhodey's suit (foreboding low wind ostinato with string tremoli).
1:26: Tony and Sam rush to catch Rhodey but are too late and he hits the ground (rhythmic arpeggio figure, Civil War motif in brass, then in held strings, bell).
15 5:38 Revealed 0:00: Tony talks to Vision and Natasha about Rhodey's injuries (held strings/choir/muted brass, Hero/Civil War motifs in solo winds/piano, brass).
1:38: Tony gets evidence that Bucky was framed by Zemo (suspense string ostinato/swelling brass, brief Zemo cimbalom figure).  He takes a helicopter towards the Raft underwater prison (brass accent).
2:40: Zemo breaks into the Hydra warehouse in the arctic and discovers the frozen winter soldiers (Hydra motif in trumpet/strings, poignant brass/strings with brief Winter Soldier "cry" and distressed choir).
4:04: Tony approaches the Raft as it surfaces for Tony's helicopter landing (rhythmic strings/swelling brass).  He is greeted by Ross and then visits the Avengers in their cells (subdued low strings/brass).  Hawkeye mocks him (Civil War motif).
16 1:34 Making Amends 0:00: Tony asks the Falcon (Sam) for help in finding Cap (slow figures).
0:38: Tony takes off in his helicopter (determined strings/snare joined by Hero motif).  Once in the air, he leaves the copter in his Iron Man suit (modulated variation of Hero motif).
17 4:00 Fracture 0:00: Zemo confronts Steve, and then begins playing a videotape.  The video shows Bucky killing Tony's parents when he obtained the trunk cargo as Winter Soldier in 1991 (low textures joined by Zemo motif as tuned metal percussion, strings, Winter Soldier synth motif, pained strings, hint of Civil War motif).
18 3:54 Clash 0:00: Steve, Tony and Bucky fight and the battle ascends towards a silo exit.  Everyone falls (brass swells/tremolo strings/winds, string rhythm with Civil War motif in brass, developed, fast string rhythm with drums and Civil War ornaments joined by a few Hero brass motifs, etc., fateful Civil War brass).
2:42: Fight continues on the ground floor and Bucky's bionic arm is eventually shot off (string tremolo, rhythmic figures/accents, "operatic" choir joins).
19 5:32 Closure 0:00: The Panther approaches Zemo on the surface (Panther motif in muted brass/wooden flute with timpani pulses).  Zemo explains his motives ("softened" Hydra motif in strings).  The Panther lets go of his vengeance.  Steve and Tony continue punching each other (Hydra and Civil war motif blend).
2:34: Tony analyzes Steve's fighting style to get the upper hand (string tremolo and muted brass swells).  Cap rallies and with Bucky's help takes out Tony (poignant Civil War figures in strings/timpani rolls/brass accents).  Steve leaves with Bucky and drops his shield after Tony shouts at him (somber Civil War motif in strings with brass swells/timpani).
4:50: (unused) Zemo is interrogated in prison and is defiant (disturbed, held strings with piano ornaments).
20 3:46 Cap's Promise 0:00: Tony gets a letter from Steve as camera pans over the Avengers in prison (somber strings/brass, Hero motif brass variant, Civil War strings).  Unconscious guards are seen and Steve appears.  Steve's voice-over tells Tony that he will come if needed (string rhythm/Hero motif developed in brass).
1:42: End credits (Hero motif developed on brass figures over rhythmic strings, joined by Civil War brass figures, etc).
21 2:18 Adagio Unused, basically a character study on Zemo (somber, suspended strings, joined by subdued winds, fateful brass/timpani).

Henry Jackman Wiki Entry
Jackman Interview (Collider)
Jon Burlingame interviews Henry Jackman 

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