Saturday, March 22, 2014

"The Avengers: Age of Ultron" Gets a Composer

Brian Tyler with Robert Downey, Jr.
It's safe to call next year's Avengers sequel, Age of Ultron, one of the most anticipated films currently in production.  Fans want to know what's going to happen and who's going to be in it.  Yesterday we got some new news regarding the project, and while this news did nothing to drop any hints as to characters and storylines, it's news worth reporting for an entirely different reason.  Composer Brian Tyler, who wrote the music for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, is returning to score The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Personally, I think that this is a big deal and one that all fans should be celebrating out there.  If there's one thing the Marvel Studios films have been lacking is a central, musical identity, and by having Tyler return to do the score, it creates the possibility for them to carve one out.  Tyler's themes he has written for both Iron Man and Thor are fairly catchy and memorable, and I for one would love to see him bring these themes back and weave them in with the existing theme for The Avengers that composer Alan Silvestri wrote for the first film.  Tyler already used a snippet of Silvestri's Captain America: The First Avenger theme in The Dark World, when Loki impersonated Cap, so he is clearly a fan of that theme as well.  Might he bring that one back too?  I can only hope, but Tyler's usage of Silvestri's Cap theme shows that he is not opposed to using themes written by other composers if they work well within the context of the film, and so I am hoping that that's the approach he'll take with Age of Ultron.

Maybe this all makes me seem a bit nitpicky, but music is highly important in regards to films, and it is often the most neglected aspect of these major franchises in terms of consistency.  These films usually have such a quick turnaround from one to the other, the same composers are often already booked on other jobs when the sequel is announced.  The problem that arises is when a new composer comes onboard, they usually just discard what came before and create their own thing.  This has been what's happened with almost all of the Marvel films so far.  It was the one weak link to The Avengers, granted until Brian Tyler there really wasn't a memorable theme written for Iron Man, so I don't fault the first Avengers.  The great thing is, with Brian Tyler, Marvel finally has a chance to break this cycle, and I think that's why he was hired.

Marvel clearly likes Brian Tyler's musical stylings, using him to score a few of their Marvel One-Shots, the fanfare that plays underneath their shiny new Marvel Studios logo, as well as the two aforementioned films he's already scored.  Tyler is becoming their go-to guy, and I think they really needed one, because as I was saying above, consistency is crucial when doing an interconnected franchise like this.  When we see a sequel, we want it to look and feel like the first one, because we already liked it, so why change it.  The thing is, we also subconsciously want it to sound just like the first one too, we just may not know it until we hear it.

Nothing is more comforting for a film fan than when you turn on any Star Wars film and hear John Williams' theme.  A great theme is crucial to creating an identity for a character or a particular story.  I mean, there's a reason why most TV shows still have some semblance of a theme song, because it lets you know that your show is coming on.  The same thing applies to films.  If Tyler utilizes his pre-existing themes in Age of Ultron, we'll know when Iron Man is about to come onscreen, because he will have been announced musically.  It's sort of like how when you hear the Imperial March, you expect to see Darth Vader coming toward you.  Without that march, not only is Darth Vader less menacing, it could be any old bad guy that's about to come around that corner, until we realize, "Oh, it's Darth Vader," and by that point any and all suspense that could have been created in that moment are gone.

Truthfully, I think Marvel is taking a huge step in the right direction with Brian Tyler.  Not only are his scores actually pleasing to listen to, they work in the context of Marvel and can finally give the Marvel Cinematic Universe a musical identity that connects the films, not just visually, but aurally as well.  Here's hoping Tyler succeeds at assembling the Avengers musically for the first time ever.  For a little taste of Tyler's abilities, listen to the themes he wrote for Iron Man and Thor.

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