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Cool Videos: Why Marvel movies don't have more popular music

09.13.2016

There are many classic movie scores out there that have stood the test of time, and are able to elicit bravado, emotional sensations. STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, HARRY POTTER, BACK TO THE FUTURE, and more feature compositions that make up the music of our imagination. But where is that music in modern movies? Sure, movies like THE SOCIAL NETWORK and even GRAVITY have tremendous scores, but are they legendary? Do they trigger a sense of wonder? The folks at Every Frame a Painting don’t think so, and they know why. Exploring the modern world of movie composition, the video examines why film scores, particularly in the Marvel Universe, don’t stand out. The issue is not simply because John Williams is too busy to score everything, but it's an issue that seeps into any major movie, even critically acclaimed ones like MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. The video is great as an informational guide into the world of film scores, and why there aren’t many memorable ones being used today. Enjoy!

Extra Tidbit: Do you agree that movie scores aren't as great as they used to be?
Source: YouTube

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1:43PM on 09/13/2016
I love music scores, as someone who prefers sound over lyrics, scores and instrumental music in general tend to be what interest me most. When I watch a movie, score matters a lot. If the score is too hard to hear or emotes poorly, it can ruin the mood the film is after. Take for example Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. The score playing as Fallen attacks Earth, downing the battle carrier, the music was fantastically well done and set the tragedy of the mood quite well imo. Say what you will
I love music scores, as someone who prefers sound over lyrics, scores and instrumental music in general tend to be what interest me most. When I watch a movie, score matters a lot. If the score is too hard to hear or emotes poorly, it can ruin the mood the film is after. Take for example Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. The score playing as Fallen attacks Earth, downing the battle carrier, the music was fantastically well done and set the tragedy of the mood quite well imo. Say what you will about the Transformers films, I love the scores.
The MCEU music does seem a little flat but as someone already mentioned, look at LOTR and Harry Potter all have strong scores. Hell, i'll say it, moments in BvS has as well, not a lot, but some. Supermans theme may not be as upbeat as John Williams was, but it does emote well for this iteration.
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1:08PM on 09/13/2016

Great video!

One of my biggest problems with the MCU was that they rarely use the same composer twice. Hence, no chance to any of its characters to have a musical theme/identity. Only the Avengers theme by Alan Silvestri seemed to show some significance, as it was incorporated to Age of Ultron's score despite two new composers. I also loved Silvestri's Captain America theme, but by the second movie, they threw it away. As for the other music, they never used them after only one movie.
One of my biggest problems with the MCU was that they rarely use the same composer twice. Hence, no chance to any of its characters to have a musical theme/identity. Only the Avengers theme by Alan Silvestri seemed to show some significance, as it was incorporated to Age of Ultron's score despite two new composers. I also loved Silvestri's Captain America theme, but by the second movie, they threw it away. As for the other music, they never used them after only one movie.
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11:04AM on 09/13/2016
Out of the Marvel films the scores to The Avengers, Winter Solider, and Guardians of the Galaxy are my favorites.
Out of the Marvel films the scores to The Avengers, Winter Solider, and Guardians of the Galaxy are my favorites.
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11:55AM on 09/13/2016
Cool Story. Now what is your opinion on the actual subject at hand?
Cool Story. Now what is your opinion on the actual subject at hand?
10:56AM on 09/13/2016
Completely agree with this. It's not just Marvel either, it's 99% of all modern films. I remember back in the 90s when this anti-theme revolution began (it was part of this anti-Spielberg movement). I remember seeing some composer in an interview claiming that themes were too much like pop songs, and scores should only be a reflection of the emotion of the scene. Which is exactly what Danny Elfman is complaining about when he's forced to make his music blend in and be invisible.
Completely agree with this. It's not just Marvel either, it's 99% of all modern films. I remember back in the 90s when this anti-theme revolution began (it was part of this anti-Spielberg movement). I remember seeing some composer in an interview claiming that themes were too much like pop songs, and scores should only be a reflection of the emotion of the scene. Which is exactly what Danny Elfman is complaining about when he's forced to make his music blend in and be invisible.
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10:46AM on 09/13/2016

Great video and very true on some points

As a writer, I have always listened to film score as I write, depending on the mood of the scenes I'm writing. And I do I have to say, that there have not been very many memorable scores to come out in the last 10 years. I heartily agree with the statement that music is half the movie. The music feeds the emotion of the scene and is not just background fodder. I think the problem with music in movies is directly related to how the studios and directors now edit their movies. If you look
As a writer, I have always listened to film score as I write, depending on the mood of the scenes I'm writing. And I do I have to say, that there have not been very many memorable scores to come out in the last 10 years. I heartily agree with the statement that music is half the movie. The music feeds the emotion of the scene and is not just background fodder. I think the problem with music in movies is directly related to how the studios and directors now edit their movies. If you look back at previous decades, you can see a very definite pattern in how movies are cut. From the 70's on, each progressive decade the pacing of movies has gotten faster and faster each decade. So I think the problem is that movies now don't allow the composer time to draw out the emotion of a scene the way it should be. One glaring example is Jurassic Park vs. Jurassic World. Because of the pacing in JW, there was ZERO suspense in what should have been thrilling action sequences. Had Spielberg directed Jurassic World, I think it would have been a very different movie.

Now with the Marvel movies, what I find interesting is that there ARE good scores and themes that are written for these movies. The problem is that they don't use them until the end credits! Listen to the end credits of THOR. It has an amazing theme by Patrick Doyle, BUT THEY NEVER USE IT IN THE MOVIE. Same with Captain America: The First Avenger. Alan Silvestri wrote an amazing march for Captain America, but they never use it in the film, just in the closing credits. The only time a theme was utilized within the movie is in both Avengers movies.

Here are some of my favorite scores:
1) Raiders of the Lost Ark
2) Star Wars
3) Krull
4) Willow
5) The Goonies
6) Batman (1989)
7) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
8) Pirates of the Caribbean : Curse of the Black Pearl
9) Much Ado About Nothing
10) The Shadow
11) Beowulf
12) Superman
13) Hook
14) The Jungle Book (2016)
15) Captain America: The First Avenger
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10:23AM on 09/13/2016

I agree with their point about Marvel in particular, but disagree with some points on their wider argument

Okay 3 thoughts:

1) I agree that, for the most part, Marvel films are the textbook definition of generic (although I still remember the theme song from the first Avengers movie even though I haven't seen it in like a year and a half, but maybe I'm the odd one out there). However, I REALLY, REALLY disagree with the statement that modern films don't produce iconic scores any more. I mean the intro video singled out Harry Potter. HP, Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean have all
Okay 3 thoughts:

1) I agree that, for the most part, Marvel films are the textbook definition of generic (although I still remember the theme song from the first Avengers movie even though I haven't seen it in like a year and a half, but maybe I'm the odd one out there). However, I REALLY, REALLY disagree with the statement that modern films don't produce iconic scores any more. I mean the intro video singled out Harry Potter. HP, Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean have all produced theme songs in the past 15 years that have very quickly become iconic.

2) A big factor in whether a theme song is "iconic" just has to do with how catchy and hummable it is (and how easy it is to play at high school band concerts) (so I really disagree that only "risky music" can achieve this, as good as John Williams is, I don't think a lot of his music is that risky, its just catchy and often in a beautifully simple way) there have been some absolutely beautiful scores over the past few years that haven't become wildly popular, and probably never will, but that doesn't mean that they aren't astounding works of art. The song "In The House, In A Heartbeat" is a great example of this. It's become pretty iconic in its own right, but will never have the pop sensibility that something like the Star Wars theme song or Jaws has. I would put a lot of Thomas Newman, Trent Reznor/Attirus Ross, and Michael Giacchino in this category too.

3) This idea that film music is supposed to be invisible is not new AT ALL. There have always been directors who echo this sentiment and there have always been ones who disagree, you can find people on both side of the argument in the Film Brat generation and in French New Wave and even in the silent film era (some directors specifically eschewed having a score composed for their film because they didn't want to have it identified with specific music out of fear that it would distract from what was on screen so the theaters would each individually select the soundtrack they wanted to play with it. For instance, from what survives from Theodor Dryer's notes, this seems to be the case with The Passion of Joan of Arc.) So sorry, Danny Elfman, I do understand your frustration, but that's always been part of the composer vs director struggle in film.
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10:22AM on 09/13/2016

ANT MAN!!

Ant-Man had a great, memorable, score :)
Ant-Man had a great, memorable, score :)
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10:00AM on 09/13/2016

Great video. And SO TRUE !

It took me a few minutes to remember an MCU theme (of DCEU for that matter)... It was AVENGERS.
But I remembered the X-MEN theme (the one from John Ottman) almost immediately.

The problem is that the scores are owned by the Studios, so the composers can not force them NOT to use them as temporary tracks (as far as I now, anyway).
It took me a few minutes to remember an MCU theme (of DCEU for that matter)... It was AVENGERS.
But I remembered the X-MEN theme (the one from John Ottman) almost immediately.

The problem is that the scores are owned by the Studios, so the composers can not force them NOT to use them as temporary tracks (as far as I now, anyway).
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10:20AM on 09/13/2016
I haven't seen The Avengers in like a year and a half and I still remember its theme song as well.
I haven't seen The Avengers in like a year and a half and I still remember its theme song as well.
1:35PM on 09/13/2016
The X-men 2 theme that has now become the intro to all the new movies has always been my fav of the X-men scores.
Avengers score really does stand out among the MCEU as their connected theme but individually, I think Captain America (2 and 3) have the best individual movie scores.
The X-men 2 theme that has now become the intro to all the new movies has always been my fav of the X-men scores.
Avengers score really does stand out among the MCEU as their connected theme but individually, I think Captain America (2 and 3) have the best individual movie scores.
+2
9:42AM on 09/13/2016

E.F.A.P. is the best film school!

I don't think it's a matter of movie scores not being great anymore. If you name any classic score, I can assure you that at least half of the movies released in that same year didn't have memorable scores. It's really hard to write music that stands out. The issue is what Danny Elfman says in the video: Many composers are told that their score shouldn't stand out. The truth is that it shouldn't be intrussive. There's a difference. If it distracts from what's happening on screen and/or tells
I don't think it's a matter of movie scores not being great anymore. If you name any classic score, I can assure you that at least half of the movies released in that same year didn't have memorable scores. It's really hard to write music that stands out. The issue is what Danny Elfman says in the video: Many composers are told that their score shouldn't stand out. The truth is that it shouldn't be intrussive. There's a difference. If it distracts from what's happening on screen and/or tells the viewer how to feel, it's bad; if it assists the scene, it's good. A friend of mine once told me that the music (I don't know if he was just talking about the score or the use of songs too) is the half of a movie.

I also wasn't able to hum the theme of any Marvel movie (not just the M.C.U.). However, if you play the one from Raimi's SPIDER-MAN and Lee's HULK, I'd recognize them.

Not counting musicals, these are my favorite scores (please reply and tell me yours):
17) LA MEMORIA DEL AGUA.
16) THE CIRCUS (1928).
15) AMERICAN BEAUTY.
14) OCEAN'S 12.
13) THE KID (2000).
12) BIG TROUBLE.
11) BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.
10) LOLITA (1997).
9) JURASSIC PARK 1.
8) LIAR LIAR.
7) SUPERMAN (1978).
6) BEN-HUR (1959).
5) STAR WARS EPISODE IV.
4) BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III.
3) TITANIC.
2) BACK TO THE FUTURE PART I.
1) THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER.
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