The Marvel Cinematic Universe is just getting bigger. What with Batman vs. Superman and Captain America: Civil War about to come out as well as promises in the future for Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Avengers: Infinity War, etc, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you folks to all the different film composers who have contributed to the soundtrack for all the Marvel movies up to the present. That way you can have a feel for even how each different composer sets a whole different feel for his movie. We’ll start in chronological order of the movies and go from there.
First up, we have Ramin Djawadi, who composed for the first ever Marvel Movie, the 2008 Iron Man. Ramin Djawadi has composed for the films and TV shows Open Season, Person of Interest, and Pacific Rim, to name a few. He tends to have a very contemporary, ethereal style, ranging from the otherworldly bass-dominant theme of Game of Thrones to the electronic melancholy of Mr. Brooks. This German-born composer was, in fact, a person of interest for Hans Zimmer, who recruited him to Remote Control Productions and the two ended up actually collaborating together. It looks like Iron Man is the only Marvel movie Djawadi ever penned, and was Grammy-nominated, which makes me wonder why Marvel didn’t pick him to compose for more of their movies. As for Hans Zimmer, he has yet to compose for Marvel; DC has already claimed him for their Batman Trilogy, Man of Steel, and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The Iron Man Theme by Ramin Djawadi
Second is Craig Armstrong, as the composer for The Incredible Hulk 2008. I am not at all familiar with this composer, and this is the only Marvel movie he’s composed for. This Scottish composer has done quite a few British films as well as Love Actually, The Great Gatsby, and The Negotiator. He appears to be a musician of other orchestral and electronic music, and most of his film scores are lone songs.
Next is … John Debney! Using the orchestra as well as electronic components, Debney is very good at bringing out the sweeping power in his score. Other movies he’s penned are The Emperor’s New Groove, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The Call. The film he receives the most praise and fame from, however, is Passion of the Christ. I find it interesting that his faith helped him to connect spiritually with the score he composed for this movie. It was premiered in Rome Italy with an 83-person choir and 96-piece orchestra, receiving a 15-minute standing ovation catapulting Debney’s success. … I think I missed something big.
Patrick Doyle composed for Thor (2011). This film’s soundtrack stays low and slightly melancholy, except for the track “Thor Kills the Destroyer,” in which he plays up for an epic battle scene. I have, too often, gotten this track mixed up with “The Golden Egg” from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as they have very similar, powerful beginnings (Doyle composed for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire anyways; he must have had some leftover pieces to work with from Thor). Doyle has composed for other movies such as Brave, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Cinderella. The Thor soundtrack is interesting in that the track “Prologue” (at the beginning of the movie) is nearly identical to “Earth to Asgard” (which plays during end credits, I believe) but “Earth to Asgard” is more sweeping and extreme and even has the “theme” at the very end; listen to it below. I think it is the best track of Thor (besides “Thor Kills the Destroyer”). The percussion in this track is very much like Two Step from Hell’s epics and you can imagine soaring over mountains when it hits 1:48
Alan Silvestri composed for Captain America: The First Avenger, which I think was a major film for the Marvel Universe as it gave birth to the first cinematic version of one of the world’s most beloved superhero: Good ol’ Cap. The most prominent piece of Silvestri’s score is “The First Avenger”, a fanfare and theme for Captain America. Silvestri is definitely more traditional and orchestral in his film composition style, and has composed for other movies including Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, and Night at the Museum, all of which has influential and easily-recognizable themes, and Cap’s theme just goes along with these prominent works of his. The next movie after Captain America: The First Avenger is The Avengers, which was also a huge hit in the Marvel Universe, and Silvestri also composed for this one. We’re just waiting for a Loki Theme by him now with a future hypothetical film series on Loki himself.
Alan Silvestri’s Captain America Theme
And we have the guy with the UCLA Bachelor’s Degree and a Harvard masters, Brian Tyler who composed for Iron Man 3. He has a very epic soundtrack for Iron Man 3 and definitely has similar style to Hans Zimmer, who I personally think all contemporary/electronic film score composers should look up to.This is my favorite Iron Man track of all (listen to the theme below). Tyler proved to be an amazing composer with this movie and so he has been set on to compose later films, such as Thor: Dark World which was released right after Iron Man 3. From his score with Thor: Dark World, Brian Tyler composed an all new Marvel Fanfare Theme for the Marvel Logo that plays in front of the Marvel movies. Besides that, Tyler has composed for movies including Battle: Los Angeles, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and Furious 7.
Henry Jackman composed for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This composer, who wrote his first symphony at age 6, has also done music for the movies X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and (believe it or not) Winnie the Pooh. He is also composing for the post-production film we are all patiently waiting for: Captain America: Civil War. Jackman was hired by Hans Zimmer and John Powell to compose additional music for The Dark Knight, The Da Vinci Code, Kung Fu Panda and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He is excellent at using the full orchestra along with electronic components to conjure an epic heavy action score, though he has composed for drama and family films.
Tyler Bates, a composer who is new to me with Craig Armstrong, composed for the big comedy action adventure hit Guardians of the Galaxy. This guy has composed for video games and lots of television as well as movies including God of War: Ascension, City of Ghosts, and Watchmen. Though this guy looks like he should be surfing instead of sitting in front of a soundboard, his score for Guardians of the Galaxy is among his best.
Danny Elfman and Brian Tyler both composed the epic score for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Elfman is one of my top favorite composers. If you’ve ever listened to any of his score, you can just tell he has a great sense of humor, which you can hear through his otherwise dark, suspenseful scores in Alice in Wonderland, Beetlejuice, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. He is part of the awesome “Weirdo Trio” (as I call it) which also consists of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. These three guys have done many, many movies together as composer, actor, and director and the movies they create are epic, hilarious, and just plain weird. Elfman also composed for the recent animation film Epic which does have an Epic soundtrack, and is on the top of my favorite score list as a fast, fun, and lighthearted track. Together, Elfman and Tyler created a wonderful score for Age of Ultron and you can listen to the short theme below.
We shall end with the best Marvel theme: by Danny Elfman “Avengers Unite” from Avengers: Age of Ultron
And that’s it, folks! We have many, many Marvel movies that we anticipate in the future, but the composer information for them is not yet set in stone. I know I can’t wait to hear who’s composing for Doctor Strange, and am looking forward to Henry Jackman’s track in our next biggie, Captain America: Civil War. I enjoyed coming up with this list and learned quite a bit myself about each composer who has contributed to the music of the Marvel Universe and I hope you have too. Who is your favorite composer out of the ones listed? Feel free to share or comment!
I'm a Christian writer of science fiction and fantasy. I'm also a book dragon, who consumes large amounts of tea and black licorice. Also aiming to publish a book and take over a couple planets while I'm at it.