What’s the most memorable piece of music from any Marvel movie?
When I asked myself that question, the first thing that came to mind was AC/DC’s “Back in Black” as heard in Iron Man. Why is that? Why is the most memorable auditory moment in the numerous films Marvel has produced a licensed track from the first movie they consider a part of their modern canon? YouTube filmmakers Brian Satterwhite, Taylor Ramos, and Tony Zhou have the answer for you in a new video from their channel Every Frame a Painting called “The Marvel Symphonic Universe.”
In the video, embedded above, the narrators discuss the little-known Hollywood trade practice of “Temp Tracking,” where an editor uses another film’s score to put together an initial cut of the movie. Temp scores are ultimately meant to be replaced by a composer’s wholly original production, but sometimes directors or producers will tell the composer to consciously imitate the temp track because they have become familiar with it. In this way, temp tracks are the bubblegum pop of the film industry– even if you hate “Call Me Maybe” the first time you hear it, if you listen to it enough it’ll start to worm its way into your brain until you can’t imagine life without it.
Unfortunately, when everyone consciously creates scores that sound like music that came before them, the end result is that everything sounds the same. It’s uncanny how similar a number of the examples in “The Marvel Symphonic Universe” sound to one another. The Transformers/Thor and Mad Max: Fury Road/Captain America comparisons struck me as particularly egregious.
Risk is necessary in every part of film. At its best, taking a risk on something like a soundtrack creates something that resonates deeper than any generic symphony ever could. Just ask Guardians of the Galaxy. Or even the character score for Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
If you are interested in continuing to follow the phenomenon of temp tracking after watching the video, the members of Every Frame a Painting have set up a Twitter account to document and bring awareness to examples of the practice.