Why Marvel Movie Scores Have No Memorable Themes (VIDEO ESSAY)

God bless the YouTube channel “Every Frame a Painting”, because they have just articulated one of my long-suffering soapboxes so perfectly well.

In their 13-minute-plus video essay “The Marvel Symphonic Universe” (below), EFAP breaks down why – despite eight years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe dominating the movie industry – not one actual music cue has penetrated the culture.

To be fair, this is a problem that goes way beyond Marvel. It’s industry wide. Other than the recognizable ominous tones of Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight Trilogy or the swashbuckling cues from Gore Verbinski‘s Pirates franchise (both scored by Hans Zimmer), perhaps the last true movie themes to have a lasting cultural footprint are the Harry Potter theme (composer John Williams) and the main theme from The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Oscar winner Howard Shore).

They came out 15 years ago.

Marvel alone isn’t entirely to blame for the heartbreaking death of the Movie Theme, but they have created and set a trend that, in the indicting words of this video essay, has become systemic.

And while the focus of this video is Marvel movie music, its principles apply to Marvel movies as a whole. Near the end of the essay, at the 12:10 mark, the Narrator asks, “So what is missing from Marvel music?” His answer to that question also applies to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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