Marvel Studios Trying To Create Consistent Motifs Across Its Superhero Film Scores

The Hollywood Reporter (via The Playlist) has a fascinating feature  on the challenges and pleasures of creating a film score for a summer blockbuster. Longtime listeners will know that I am a film score junkie, so this piece was right up my alley and I'd strongly suggest you check it out if you are too. Of particular interest is how they are trying to make the film scores connect, not only from Iron Man to Iron Man 2, but also from Iron Man 2 to the new Captain America film. And with The Avengers film on the way too, who knows how they'll be able to weave everything together?

The original score to Iron Man was written by Ramin Djwadi. I found it quite competent, but completely unremarkable. Here's a clip that features the theme; see if you agree:

Composer John Debney was brought on to write music for the second film, and he commented on trying to infuse his own style while retaining the spirit of the first film's score: "It's quite different from the first score, but it retains a lot of the same cool elements...There's a lot of guitar in it, but most of it is couched with the orchestra, so we never lose sight of that whole thing." Director Jon Favreau was quite complimentary of Debney's capabilities (as directors typically are in these types of pieces):

What Debney brings to the table is how to write music around that (the sound effects), so you're not competing...Understanding what range to use, what tones to use, and how to time it so you're reinforcing the effects and you're not muddying things up and the music can be played at a high level without competing with the sound effects — he's pretty masterful at that.

The film's score will feature the guitar stylings of Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, and the film's final soundtrack will have songs by AC/DC.

Interestingly, Favreau and Debney also used the music of Dick Sherman, a wildly talented composer who's been responsible for music in films such as The Jungle Book, The Sword in the Stone, and Mary Poppins. According to Favreau, "We brought him onboard and had him write a song for the Stark Expo, which in our movie lore has been going on since the '30s, much like the World's Fair." This melody was then incorporated into the Iron Man 2 score as the theme for Tony Stark's father, Howard Stark. According to THR, "the tune's origins will likely be revealed in the new Captain America film, set in World War II." The Playlist cites rumors that Howard Stark will play a major part in Captain America's origin story, so motifs you hear in Iron Man 2 may be heard throughout Marvel's films for quite sometime.

Check out the full article for more details. I was amused by Trevor Rabin's comments about his upcoming Sorcerer's Apprentice score, and his attempts to pay homage to the original Paul Dukas piece.