Avengers: Endgame is set to be the end of an era. Marvel's gargantuan blockbuster is the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), anticipating a future that may well be absent of old favourites, yet populated with memorable new characters.
As we potentially say goodbye to the likes of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), we can also revel in one of the most spectacular movie experiences of the year. Key to the movie's impact is returning composer Alan Silvestri who embarks on his fourth MCU movie following Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Infinity War.
Long renowned as one of Hollywood's finest movie composers, with a career stretching back to the 1980s and encompassing classics such as Back to the Future and Predator, Silvestri knows how to conjure a rousing, thunderous symphony. So, in anticipation of his Endgame score, we're recapping his 10 greatest MCU soundtrack moments.
10. Avengers Assemble (2012) – Loki emerges
Joss Whedon's fledgling Avengers movie may be one of the funniest and most infectiously breezy movies in the MCU canon. Yet it's not without its darkly menacing interludes, which mainly come in the form of Tom Hiddleston's enjoyably cackling villain Loki.
Alan Silvestri's darkly swirling strings and pounding percussion, which capture Loki's diabolical nature and his connection to the all-powerful Tesseract, rise to the fore when he emerges from a German opera house and compels the terrified crowds to kneel at his feet. And that wavering violin solo when one brave war veteran stands up to him hits us in the heart.
9. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Howlin' Commandos
Silvestri's first MCU assignment was Captain America's origin story, set in the nostalgic, sepia-tinted environs of World War II. Silvestri's hiring was a stroke of genius on the part of director Joe Johnston – the composer's sound has an inherently old-fashioned, melodic feel to it, which makes him the perfect choice to capture the nobility, patriotism and warmth of Chris Evans's title character.
He really opens the taps during the pivotal Howlin' Commandos montage scene, detailing Captain America's conquest of the evil HYDRA forces. Silvestri's assortment of snare drums, strings and brass is unashamedly heroic and encapsulates the unerring bravery of Cappy's character.
8. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Thor arrives in Wakanda
The staggering sweep of Infinity War, not to mention the overwhelming cast of characters, informs Silvestri's score, but not in the way many expected. Instead of incorporating the various character themes from across the MCU, the composer instead accentuates the level of doom and threat perpetuated by Thanos (Josh Brolin), who seeks to destroy 50% of all life in the universe via the power of the Infinity Stones.
It's Thanos's dark, toiling yet surprisingly tragic theme that therefore dominates. However, there are some sublime moments of orchestral/choral power that sum up the heroism of our Avengers initiative – the memorable scene where a renewed Thor (Chris Hemsworth) arrives in the midst of the battle of Wakanda is boosted immeasurably by Silvestri's music.
7. Avengers Assemble (2012) – helicarrier lifts off
Joss Whedon says he hired Silvestri for Avengers Assemble on the basis of his penchant for memorable musical themes. Yet at the same time the director praised his ability at crafting scene-specific cues that add to the wider tapestry of the moviegoing experience.
Case in point: the first meeting between Captain America, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) aboard S.H.I.E.L.D.'s floating helicarrier. As everyone's favourite resident green rage monster, Bruce anticipates what kind of transport he'll be contained within. Silvestri's rhythmic sense of orchestral power then, appropriately, begins to soar as the helicarrier takes to the air, making for one of the movie's most memorable scenes.
6. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Steve's sacrifice
It takes a fine composer to evoke tears during a movie otherwise designed to raise the adrenaline levels. The somewhat underrated The First Avenger embodies the unwavering nobility of the Steve Rogers character, particularly in the final scenes. As he prepares to crash the Tesseract in the Arctic pack ice, thereby sacrificing himself for the greater good, he's compelled to say goodbye to love interest Peggy (Hayley Atwell) at the same time.
Silvestri's heartbreakingly tender melody strikes a human and intimate note, bringing the super-enhanced character back down to Earth and reminding us why he is one of the most vulnerable, relatable characters in the Avengers canon.
5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – forging Stormbreaker
Along with 2017's Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War helped re-shape the character of Thor as a memorable badass. One of the latter film's most eye-widening scenes comes when Thor forges a brand new weapon, his hammer Mjolnir having been destroyed by the evil Hela (Cate Blanchett) in Ragnarok.
Mirroring the scene's visual aesthetic – all cavernous furnaces, iron and smelting – Silvestri's music, fusing symphony orchestra with choir, builds to the sort of colossal proportions that befit a Norse god. It's both enormously exciting and a clever way of anticipating the next chapter in Thor's character development, as he wields the impossibly destructive Stormbreaker.
4. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – the Captain is born
In recent years the Captain has emerged as the Avengers' resident tactical expert – just look at his handling of the Battle of New York in Avengers Assemble. However, this wasn't always the case – he began life as weedy, puny Steve Rogers, who couldn't even get himself drafted for World War II. That is, until a top-secret experiment transformed him into a super-soldier.
It makes for one of the MCU's most endearing and entertaining origin stories, championing a genuine underdog. Silvestri's terrifically militaristic theme, which emerges in its entirety for the first time when Steve is officially transforms, practically resonates bravado and courage. The music cements the Captain as someone whose resolve is determined as much by his inner spirit as his outer strength.
3. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Captain America's entrance
On the run from the forces of Thanos in Edinburgh, Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) come to a horrible realisation. His minions are after the Mind Stone that is encased within Vision's head, one of the Infinity Stones that will help ensure Thanos's dominion over all living things.
Just when things are looking particularly desperate, a projectile is launched off-screen only to be intercepted by a silhouetted figure. Silvestri's subsequent deployment of his unmistakeable Avengers theme is beautifully timed as Captain America makes his first Infinity War appearance. The composer's sparing use of the theme, reserving it only for the most significant moments, is more than enough to send audiences crazy, and reinforces Steve's standing as the inception point of the Avengers team.
2. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – end credits
The retro nature and historical context of The First Avenger allowed Silvestri to apply a sense of orchestral grandeur denied to previous MCU composers. It all comes to the fore during the official 'Captain America March' during the end credits, a full-blooded, full-throttle deployment of the Captain America theme in the manner of a militaristic World War II anthem.
When accompanied by stylish credits graphics, drawing on classic WWII iconography like the 'we can do it' riveter poster, it drives home the exhilarating style and atmosphere of the movie we've just experienced. Such is the joyous impact of the Captain America theme that Silvestri has subsequently deployed it piecemeal throughout the following Avengers movies.
- From Assemble to Infinity War: your essential history of the Avengers before watching Avengers: Endgame
1. Avengers Assemble (2012) – assembling the team
Much of the appeal of Avengers Assemble resides in the fractious nature of our superhero team. We're watching from the start and wondering, how will this group of talented mavericks learn to work together? In particular, the antagonistic dynamic of egotistical, quick-witted Tony Stark and the upstanding Steve Rogers promises all manner of fireworks before they're finally compelled to work together.
Silvestri's score anticipates this – his Avengers theme is present in the movie right from the very start, as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) steps from his helicopter. However the theme is never fully resolved until the moment our team officially earn their superhero stripes, chiefly in the fan-pleasing scene where the camera swirls around them in the midst of the New York battle. Silvestri's exhilarating deployment of his main theme makes one thing absolute: the Avengers are here, and they're here to stay.
Click here to book your tickets for Avengers: Endgame, on release now in Cineworld.
What are your favourite Alan Silvestri soundtrack moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know @Cineworld.