One of the best parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that everything feels different from the cinematography to the music. Marvel could have taken the easy way out, make all of their television shows sound the same, but instead they’ve brought on a variety of talent from across the board. No two Marvel shows look exactly the same and they don’t sound the same either. In a spotlight on Variety they spoke to the various composers that have brought the Marvel television shows to life.
Sean Callery, who composed the Emmy-winning theme for Jessica Jones, is currently working on the music for Inhumans which is looking like an entirely new venture for Callery.
“It takes place across two planetary bodies, and there are more than half a dozen characters with superhuman abilities,” says Callery.
Marvel and ABC agreed that they wanted Inhumans to have a fantastic score and approved a 68-piece orchestra with nearly 70 minutes of music across the two episodes.
“It’s a big production with a lot of characters, and a sense of adventure,” says Callery. “This is the most thematic I’ve been with any show I’ve worked on. At its core, it’s about a royal family, so there are some grand themes for the kingdom and the family.”
Marvel didn’t set out to have a completely different way of going about scoring their television shows. Blake Neely is the extremely talented man behind the DC CW shows but it became apparent Marvel was doing something different with their television on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
“It was the first show from the new Marvel Studios brand,” notes composer Bear McCreary. “The cinematic outings all had a consistent orchestral sound. There was a sense that it had to connect; you were plugging into the broader cinematic universe through a television lens.”
The score of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved as the show has changed over the course of the last four seasons.
As the seasons and stories have progressed, McCreary says, “the score became a little more intense and more electronically driven. In the third and fourth seasons, electronics really moved to the forefront as we got into more stories about Inhumans and the digital world our characters inhabit. But the orchestra is always our foundation.”
When Fox and Marvel announced that they were making a X-Men show called Legion fans weren’t sure what to expect. To say that anyone was expecting what Legion ended up being would be an understatement. A lot of love was put into the look and feel of that show which was only elevated by the score.
When Jeff Russo started on FX’s “Legion,” he wanted to “invite the viewer to share in David’s experience, which is mostly not knowing the difference between reality and hallucination… to invite them to be as disoriented as David.”
David would be an unreliable narrator and the audience was supposed to question everything they saw and heard like David did. The overall aesthetics of the show feels very much like the 70’s and that was brought into the score.
So in discussions with showrunner Noah Hawley, they came up with what they called “the soundtrack of schizophrenia in the ’70s”: Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”
Russo even found a synthesizer used on Dark Side of the Moon, the Synthi AKS, and experimented with it as he recorded and wrote melodies around the sounds.
Inhumans will be in IMAX theaters starting September 1st and the series will premiere on ABC on September 29th. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return for it’s fifth season in early 2018 and Legion will premiere its second season also in 2018.