Superhero movies are basically everywhere right now. Between the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe, and the X-Men franchise, there is no shortage of super powered adventures and epic fight scenes to watch in theaters. And above all the rest seems to be the MCU, which manages to consistently gross an insane amount of money while also getting rave reviews from even the harshest critics. But it appears that there is one major aspect of Marvel films that is truly subpar, especially compared to other franchises in film history. Namely, the music is practically a non-entity in basically every one of the MCU's 13 films.
Three movie fans and film professionals (Brian Satterwhite, Taylor Ramos, and Tony Zhou) recently released a short films which examines the use of music, or lack thereof, within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you look at film franchises in the past, you'll be able to sing their score just off the top of your head. James Bond has his signature theme song, Jurassic Park has an epic one, and Star Wars has multiple themes that return throughout the various entries. But what does Marvel have?
Basically they have nothing. As the short film recalls, almost all of the music used in the MCU fades into the background. There are entire scenes scored which you can barely hear over the dialogue and action of the scenes. And when music is used, it's usually pretty predictable. We hear a high string note when something sad happens, drums and operatic voices at the start of big battles, and a simple piano during a delicate and quiet moment. The music is used to inform what we already know about each scene, rather than give the audience a different perspective or further enrich the scene.
Check out the awesome short below, and prepare to never hear the Marvel Cinematic Universe the same again.
Pretty awesome, right? I had never really thought about the music in Marvel films before, and now I know why. They simply do not have dynamic and storytelling scores.
One of the other interesting points from the above video focuses on temp music. Directors will often use stand in music from previously released movies in order to inform the editors and composers as to the overall feel of each scene. But practice makes permanent, and this ritual can often lead to the composers no longer being able to truly create original music, but imitate other writers' works. You can see how this happened in Zack Snyder's 300, as well as MCU movies like Thor.
Is it time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to get their own exciting theme songs? Or is their current formula working just fine? Sound off in the comments below.
Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.
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