I normally don't write about scores for films I haven't seen yet but I was given an advance promo of Brian Tyler's score for Thor: The Dark World (2013) and I thought I would share my first listening experience. I wouldn't take these words as an official review but rather a chronicle of my initial thoughts and reactions to the music I'm hearing.
Earlier this year Brian Tyler composed what I would consider to be one of the better superhero scores to come down the pike in quite some time. Iron Man 3 (2013) is certainly not on par with Williams' Superman (1978), Elfman's Batman (1989) or Giacchino's The Incredibles (2004); however, considering the climate of modern film music I do feel it's worthy of rallying behind and celebrating.
Fresh off his success scoring Shane Black's entry to the rapidly-expanding Marvel universe, Tyler composed what sounds to be a pretty damn worthy score for Thor: The Dark World. The first film, entitled Thor (2011), was scored by Patrick Doyle and although I thought he did a fairly decent job with the picture, I think some fans were a little disappointed by the lack of Asgardian cultural references and diminutive(ish) power. It's certainly an innovative opus but it could have worked with any number of modern superhero films.
What Tyler has done with Thor: The Dark World is remarkably different. Upon first listen it bears no similarity to Doyle's work and appears to abandon any musical references from the previous film. Tyler isn't breaking new ground but I feel this is the score I expected for the character all along. When I say it's "huge," I really mean it. It can't be overstated. Tyler is known for creating gargantuan orchestral sounds but this certainly raises the bar. It's as if Thor himself is using the mighty Mjölnir to hammer the orchestra into oblivion. Tyler employs an infectious and rousing theme oftentimes backed by a viking-esque choir and more brass than I might have ever heard in a single score. There's no mistaking that it's a Brian Tyler score which means fans of his work will undoubtedly go ballistic for this music. He may even be successful in converting a few detractors as I thought he did with Iron Man 3.
The Marvel cinematic universe is unique in that it has delivered an array of composers who have each placed their creative idiosyncracies on the film they were assigned. The result is a constant rotation of fresh voices bringing a new perspective to each movie. Thor: The Dark World is the first time that a composer has crossed characters and scored two completely different films within the Marvel world (Silvestri's tackling of Avengers after Captain America is not quite the same thing). It's an interesting approach because we finally have an element of consistency and a feeling of brand awareness between two Marvel properties. However, Tyler's music for these two films are decidedly different. His score for Iron Man 3 sounds like Iron Man and Thor: The Dark World sounds like Thor. I'm not sure if I can honestly say that about other scores for the other Marvel films even though I feel that most of them are generally successful. (I should note that I adore Silvestri's Captain America and think that it certainly embodies that character to perfection.)
The soundtrack album also contains a new "Marvel Studios Fanfare" to accompany the famous Marvel animated logo at the start of the movie. If they start using this for for other pictures it'll certainly help establish the brand we've long respected and loved.
It looks like Marvel is grooming Tyler to be their man. So far, I'm pleased. He's certainly done more to define the Marvel sound than anybody else. Listening to his score for Thor: The Dark World certainly makes me hungry for more.