Why Marvel Music Isn’t Memorable
Try saying that title five times fast!
If you’ve never heard of the YouTube channel, Every Frame a Painting, it’s a channel run by a film enthusiast named Tony Zhou, dedicated to the art of filmmaking. His videos are high-quality and well-researched, bringing forth new perspectives on movies and the cinematic techniques that tug at our heartstrings. His most recent video has been getting some buzz, due to the fact that he throws some shade at Marvel Studios. What was their stigma? That despite having the most wealthiest franchise in film, they didn’t have any memorable music. Take a look:
It’s easy to hum the famous bars of “Harry Potter” or the “Indiana Jones” theme. And you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has no idea what the “Star Wars” theme sounds like. But these are closed franchises, with fewer films than Marvel. So why is it that most people can’t remember any of the compositions from Marvel movies?
Marvel vs Classic Franchises
While Tony at Every Frame A Painting believes that the problem may have something to do with communication between directors and composers during the film editing process, I want to iterate a new perspective. To answer the question of why famous movie theme songs are so memorable is to look at how often they’re played. Every “Harry Potter”, “James Bond”, and “Indiana Jones” film plays the same theme, even if they take on slightly different variations with each film. It’s expected by the audience and delivers that nostalgic punch every time. You don’t quite get that with Marvel movies, because they’re each standalone.
It’s all about repetition. Those themes are so iconic because we hear them so often within their franchises. But since Marvel films are all over the place, following many different characters, it would be difficult to ask for a central theme song that ties them all together. If anything, the most memorable tracks may be “The Avengers” theme and the “Guardians of the Galaxy”. But “Guardians” relied on familiar tunes from the 70s and 80s, while “Avengers” only used their theme in the “Avengers” films, and none of the other Marvel films featuring the same characters.
Am I saying that Tony Zhou is wrong to criticize Marvel Studios for their music? Of course not, he brings up a lot of good points about how films are starting to sound worryingly similar. However, I disagree with comparing them to the likes of “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter”. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a whole other beast that is still trying to tie up all the loose ends and storylines, so we may not see the end for many years. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t hear the “Avengers” theme again until the “Inifinity War” films.
Explore More Cinematic Music
Before I end this post, I did want to introduce another perspective on film compositions. If you’re fascinated with cinematic theme music, I direct you to another YouTube channel called The Nerdwriter. He produced a video analyzing how Howard Shore developed and layered the famous character compositions for “The Lord of the Rings” films, and it brings a lot of insight into why other movie themes resonate with us. Take a look!
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