by Emily Weber
The depiction of comic book superheroes in cartoons, TV shows, films and video games dates back to I don’t even know when, but I can assure you that the trend is not fading anytime soon. Hollywood’s production schedule of films based on characters from Marvel and DC Comics will continue on a path towards infinity and beyond until they run out of characters, at which point they will continue with sequels and remakes. [cough-bat-man-cough].
I admit, I’m not really into comic books, but I do love a good superhero movie and I will also admit to being your typical female demographic who is more likely to see a superhero movie that has a female/male relationship of some sort. My first? Superman in 1978 (even though I was only 4 years old, the hidden identity of Clark Kent was totally sexy)! I also really loved the Spider-Man franchise and the love story between Peter and Mary Jane, which was wonderfully cast in actors, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. I am also looking forward to seeing THOR to witness the breakout of new superstar and SUPER-SEXY-HOT Australian, Chris Hemsworth! Of note, this weekend’s audience was made up of 37% female according to Yahoo.
Now on to the trailers… According to traileraddict.com, Superman was the first blockbuster film adaptation of a comic book superhero (please correct me if that source is wrong). You may recall in my last two articles my discussions about “songs” versus “trailer music score” verses score from the film (which is often the use of a theme). I believe I referenced the John Williams’ score for Superman and now I can finally talk about it more this month! Enjoy this flashback to 1978 and watch the Superman trailer. Gotta love John Williams!
Let’s fast-forward 11 years to Tim Burton’s first Batman movie which actually doesn’t have much music, but seems to use some of Danny Elfman’s score in the trailer. Stay with me now, I’m about to make a point!
And now we’re off to 2002 and in the Spider-Man trailer you will hear some “trailer library” music including a well-known duo called E.S. Posthumus with the use of one of their tracks called “Pompeii.” E.S. Posthumus was not the first “artist” to come up with the idea of scoring music intended for trailers, but starting in the mid to late 1990’s, a trend in trailer production started to happen where the music began to “step it up” sorta speak. Instead of using songs and/or score from the film, trailer production companies began looking for music that was original to trailers, but still had a cinematic feel to it. They turned to companies like Immediate Music, E.S. Posthumus, or Position Music, among others.
The Spider-Man franchise took off, with 2 more sequels (and a “re-boot” currently in production called The Amazing Spider-Man due out in the Summer of 2012). Of note, the trailer for Spider-Man 2 used Immediate Music’s “Lacrimosa” and Spider-Man 3 used Position Music’s “Trinity.” Both tracks written by Emmy Award-winning composers and recorded live – talk about stepping it up! It is safe to say that around this time (early 2000’s) trailer music really began to come into its own and is now in full swing with maybe a couple dozen companies (or more) providing top-notch music for trailers. Let’s take a look at some of the current trailers now that we’ve time-traveled to the present!
But, a quick tangent before we do that: I want to point out that Iron Man stepped out of the box of “superhero-trailer-trend” and used “songs” in their campaign using Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” (shocking), Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” and Curve’s “Hell Above Water” respectively. Ok, now back to trailer score…
As you have figured out by now, I work at Position Music: home to the amazing Celldweller, James Dooley, Tom Salta, and now the wonderful up and coming talent of Jo Blankenburg. I am happy to share a little preview of one of our newest albums with you wonderful Tadpole Audio readers. The album is called Vendetta, which was an album written with these type of superhero movies in mind. It is common for a music company like us to write and produce the music BEFORE the trailer goes into production. That is not to say we are the trendsetters, but we’d like to try of course. You might be hearing some of these tracks in upcoming trailers this year, but I am not allowed to say which, so you’ll just have to pay attention!
Our competitors are keeping us on the cutting edge by producing some of their own fantastic music for these current superhero movies:
The tracks featured in this one are “Destructo” from Hi-Finesse, and in Thor’s Trailer 2: you will hear Audio Machine’s “Brain Mismatch”
Two more trailers coming out this summer are Green Lantern, which features both a song (Wolfmother’s “Cosmic Egg”) and a “library” track from Methodic Doubt, and Captain America,which features tracks by Groove Addicts
and a song by Glitch Mob.
Superhero movies are never-ending, but there is one franchise that doesn’t technically feature a comic book hero, but in most peoples’ eyes IS a superhero type movie and it IS coming to an end this summer. I must give props to a good composer friend and former colleague of mine, John Samuel Hanson, for scoring a wonderful track for the new Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Teaser Trailer. RIP Harry Potter Franchise….
Until next month’s article… machines, robots and sci-fi, oh my!
Emily Weber has specialized in music for trailers since approximately 2004. She currently works at Position Music, a trailer music supplier and publishing company/record label.