Beginning with the first Iron Man to this year’s Captain America: Civil War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most lucrative movie franchises of all time. But why can’t the average moviegoer remember a single melody from any of their soundtracks? The YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting attempts to answer that question with a fascinating analysis of Marvel movie music and how composers generally orchestrate their soundtracks.
The video effectively argues that most themes don’t evoke an emotional response, choosing instead to rely on obvious accompaniment. Some examples are Tony Stark’s assembling his Iron Man suit in 2008’s Iron Man, and Sif and the Warriors Three surprising a mortal Thor on earth in 2011’s Thor. The themes that do succeed in this regard, however, are often buried under other sound effects, like Cap’s theme in Captain America: The Winter Soldier drowned out by the museum’s voiceover.
The second portion of the essay delves into temp music, which occurs during the editing process and refers to when music from another movie is temporarily used to play over scenes, often as a means for filmmakers to figure out what music they want where. In some cases, the composers are told to imitate the temp music, which is what happened on 300. Featuring scenes from Mad Max: Fury Road and Thor, the essay pinpoints similar instances in Marvel movies.
Watch the entire essay below.
The end results are soundtracks that aren’t memorable because the music rarely takes risks or incites an emotional reaction, as it made painfully clear when compared to themes like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and James Bond. We’re already so far into the MCU, but it’s never too late to change. Maybe something like Spider-Man: Homecoming, which claims to give off John Hughes vibes, could be the exact kind of musical injection this franchise needs.