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The surprising reason music for Marvel movies is so forgettable

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The tyranny of the temp track

scarlet witch

Most of us can’t name or hum a single piece of music from a Marvel superhero film. But why is that? How can a series become so ubiquitous while featuring such bland, forgettable music?

This explanation by Every Frame a Painting makes a lot of sense, even while being a bit on the depressing side.

Here’s a second video that explores what the team at Every Frame a Painting believes is the temp track for these movies and television shows, compared to the final score:

This is a problem with many forms of art: If you’re mostly inspired by art that’s like the art you want to make ... you’re going to make bland art. Winter Soldier, for instance, was one of the best Marvel films and it was inspired by 70s-era political thrillers. You have to bring influences that are different from the thing you’d like to make if you'd like your art to stand out.

There’s only so much the composer can do if these films were edited to the temp tracks of other blockbusters, especially if they were told directly or implicitly to mimic that sound. You get blockbuster soundtracks inspired by blockbuster soundtracks, with editing that puts the music in the background of each scene.

The result? It’s not bad music, but it’s certainly forgettable.