Monday, December 16, 2013

The Superhero Theme Project Part 8: Iron Man

While we are relatively deep in the DC universe, the Little One is just scratching the surface of Marvel’s roster.  If the past few years are any indication, these characters will probably play a role in her childhood through well-conceived films that pay reverence to their source material.  I don’t want to co-opt that experience too severely by assigning music to characters that may have their own themes in the future.  Additionally, there are some issues with the scoring of the current films that don’t quite fit the classic theme song paradigm that I have been operating with. Iron Man, the Little One's latest discovery, serves as an example for a couple of these issues..

In recent years, it has become increasingly important to distinguish between a movie’s “soundtrack” and its “score.” I always remember a “soundtrack” being mostly original music associated with a movie. These days, however, the meaning of this term has shifted, and usually designates a collection of songs by popular artists that may or may not even be in the movie. This has been a particularly pervasive practice in superhero movies, and Iron Man is no exception. As a result, it would not be beyond reason to make Ol’ Shell-Head’s theme painfully obvious.

Iron Man by Black Sabbath on Grooveshark

But that would be totally wrong. It is my intention to allow all of these superheroes to inhabit the same soundscape regardless of intellectual property legalities and other such nonsense. Iron Man’s theme would have to come from a “score” rather than a soundtrack. Scoring conventions have changed, however, partially in reaction to current movie formats, and well-developed themes are not always given the prominence they once did. A theme once would have played during the opening credits of a movie, but high profile movies rarely waste time with protracted introductions. Very often, there is little more than a title sequence. This was the case for the majority of the films in the Iron Man franchise. Iron Man 3, however, had a change in director, composer, and, surprisingly, a pretty memorable theme.

Granted, this theme has some non-traditional sounds at its fringes, a factor that has perhaps ill-advisedly dissuaded me from choosing some great music for this project. It is also relatively straightforward, but after the hyper-complexity of Hawkman’s theme, I did not see anything wrong with presenting something a little more accessible on behalf of Iron Man, especially if it was actually from the franchise.  The final selling point was the programmatic hammer-and-anvil, which, coincidentally, was a sound I was looking for at the outset.

For the Little One, this energy and power of this piece made it an immediate success. I think that she could listen to Iron Man on infinite repeat and be totally happy. Due to lack of exposure, however, Iron Man isn’t on her radar as much as Superman or J’onn J’onzz. She doesn’t regularly ask for him. Perhaps in a few months we can crack open the Avengers animated series on Netflix and raise her awareness about these heroes as well. For the short term, though, I think we’ll mainly have a DC Christmas.

To go to the previous post in this series, click HERE.
To go on to the next one, click HERE.

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