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Avengers: Endgame
  • Composed by Alan Silvestri
  • Hollywood Records / 117m

With Bananaman, Captain Birdseye and Colonel Sanders all added to the regular Avengers crew, the stakes could hardly have been higher in Avengers: Endgame. Beloved characters die, absolutely never to be seen again at all, buildings are destroyed and Martin Scorsese is foaming at the mouth – it’s all going on. Teenagers everywhere in floods of tears as they would have to wait a full month and a half before the next Marvel movie came out. Sad times.

I’ve said this before and everyone laughed and hurled virtual eggs in my general direction, but I can’t believe what a musical opportunity this series of films presented – all those characters, all those heroic moments. If this stuff had been done in the early 1980s and John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith had scored them, just imagine all those themes everyone would be humming when they were playing with the toys. Heck, if they’d been done in the later 1980s or early 1990s and Alan Silvestri had scored them, imagine all those themes! But it’s not then, it’s now, and let’s be thankful that we do still have Alan Silvestri around to work his magic, even if he’s had to adapt it to suit the times. We didn’t ever get all those themes – some of the characters had themes when they had their own movies, but perhaps it was just seen as potentially too chaotic if that had happened when they all came together.

Alan Silvestri

Instead, we do have a great theme for the group which has indeed entered into the audience’s consciousness – something not to be sniffed at, these days – and some first-rate action scoring from a veteran of the game. For Avengers: Endgame, something new: a chance to do emotion – real emotion. There’s real heroism (even a track called “The Real Hero”). There have been some dodgy steps along the way from a musical point of view, but this series of approximately eight thousand films goes out on a musical bang with its best score. Well, I say it goes out, but there are probably eight thousand more to come, then all the reboots, the animated versions, the live-action remakes of the animated versions – I’ll be long dead before they stop making Avengers films in all probability. I just have a sneaky feeling that Alan Silvestri’s theme for them will not be.

It’s in this score a lot – sometimes in full-on, flag-waving mode (brilliant in “One Shot”) – sometimes much more subtly – a couple of times, in lounge jazz arrangement (seriously). I like the Ant-Man style arrangement of it in “The How Works”. It’s a great theme – sticks in the memory, has drive and purpose, is deliberately malleable. Apart from the only working film composer who’s been around in Hollywood for longer than Alan Silvestri (no need to name him – just think of his beard) there’s nobody else who can bang a great theme out quite like Silvestri.

We get a couple of fabulous new ones in this score. They’re not action themes – they’re sweeping, emotional ones – one, heard best in “The Real Hero”, a kind of death theme (I won’t say who dies in case you haven’t seen it yet), the other a big magical, mystical number given full weight in the fantastic, deservedly-lauded “Portals”.

Some good set-pieces too, quite apart from the themes – “Becoming Whole Again” is touching, those swoony Silvestri string and horn harmonies out in full force; in fact much of the early part of the score has a lot of moments like that as the story develops, before the action really kicks in. “Perfectly Not Confusing” is when the latter really happens – a great action motif, derived from but separate from the main theme, then we get to hear the composer’s magnificent Captain America theme for the first time in a few years (a character with a theme!)

“The Tool of a Thief” is a good cue, combining bursts of frantic action with ethereal space music. “The Measure of a Hero” includes some really nice but surprisingly subtle musical painting of heroism (the score is much more than just crash-bang-wallop). More heroism in “Whatever It Takes” – that death theme starting to take shape here, the emotional weight under it starting to build (and it builds further with the choir in “Not Good”. Then the action takes hold again – dark, thunderous, dynamic in “Tres Amigos”, “Tunnel Scape” and “Worth It” (which more than lives up to its name).

After that we’re into all the massive cues at the end of the album. I’ve already mentioned “Portals” and so has everyone else – it’s brilliant, epic, this score’s brilliant new theme combining with the main Avengers theme in grand style. Some brilliant action follows – “The One” is a belter of a cue, so dense and exciting. “You Did Good” is for the big death scene and it’s touching enough but the real emotional moment comes for the funeral in the next track, the glorious “The Real Hero”. The death theme is just brilliant in the way it’s done – it’s closely related to the portals theme but is distinct – and the cue packs a real emotional punch, going from horns through glassy strings then guitar and then elegiac strings. Emotion swells again in the end title piece, “Main on End”, which offers another new variant on the same harmonic base as the portals/death themes for the grand Star Trek VI-style sign-off before we get one last blast (for now!) of that wonderful main theme.

I bought this when the only purchasable version was the near-two-hour download. A single-CD version was subsequently released. Now you know what I’m going to say – except you don’t know what I’m going to say, because I’m going to say that I really like the whole thing. How often I will actually have time to devote two hours to listening to it is another matter, but when I do I will enjoy an album that only sags in quality occasionally. It’s vibrant, it’s emotional, it’s vintage musical storytelling. I never did get the dozens of themes I wanted, but Silvestri has done what he does – it’s a genuinely impressive work full of thrills and excitement, it does its narrative push with great force, it has a number of spine-tingling moments – this is probably the best Marvel score and if Black Panther can win an Oscar then Silvestri must scratch his head as to exactly what he has to do to get more serious recognition.

Rating: **** 1/2

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  1. Marco Ludema (Reply) on Sunday 22 December, 2019 at 16:35

    An absolute fantastic score for a great movie. I highly recommend the Spider-Man: Far From Home soundtrack as well, that one has some absolute bangers.

  2. Ashley (Reply) on Sunday 22 December, 2019 at 22:14

    Agree with everything! Portals was incredible.

    Have another listen to Black Panther. Was such an incredible soundtrack.