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Iron Man 2
  • Composed by John Debney
  • Sony Classical 88697 74654 2 / 2010 / 72:26

A couple of years ago I wrote a rather damning review of Ramin Djawadi’s “music” for Iron Man, one of the most unimaginative and downright poor scores I’d ever heard for a major film.  It was reported at the time that director Jon Favreau had wanted his usual composer John Debney to handle the film, but the studio wouldn’t let him; for the sequel, Favreau had enough clout to get his own way and so there was much rejoicing that it would be Debney and not Djawadi handling the scoring duties.  It is rather surprising to report that the composer seems to have taken as the basis for his score the very model used for the first film – electric guitars and drum kits abound.  There’s a lot more orchestra to go with them, but that does end up making this sound like a slightly more orchestral (and more melodic) version of the first score rather than a really fresh route for the series’ music.

After a promising, Danny Elfman-like opening (Spiderman without the theme), Debney goes back to Hans Zimmer territory for the second cue, using the guitar riff from the second Pirates of the Caribbean score.  And the score develops into something rather entertaining, really – the same ideas as the first score, but written by a composer far more capable of turning that into an interesting sound.  Debney himself has done something similar before (for The Scorpion King).  What the score lacks is something which I would have thought should be an automatic inclusion in any of these superhero films – a strong theme.  It’s hard to discern any kind of theme at all for Robert Downey Jr’s character, which is a shame (Debney is more than capable of providing one).  Given the film’s extremely strong showing at the box office, one assumes that a third installment will be around the corner before long – let’s hope that whoever gets to write the music finally gets to give this character a distinctive musical identity of his own.  ***

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Friday 6 August, 2010 at 15:00

    Y’know, I found that cutting a few of the short extraneous bits like “Make Way For Tomorrow – Expo Version” and “Gun Show” and even “Thor” adds a whole extra half-star in my estimation. The lack of thematic integration — whether of Debney’s “I Am Iron Man” theme or even upgrades of Djawadi’s themes from the original — does drag this score down, but the actions set-pieces are quite good and with just a bit of streamlining (which I generally don’t care to do; I’d prefer for the labels/producers to actually produce a good listening experience) this has become Debney’s best in quite some time — since Lair anyway.

  2. Orlando Gonzalez (Reply) on Friday 13 August, 2010 at 05:51

    Although a bit disjointed (especially in the middle) Debney handed this one very nicely! Damn it cause he didnt score the first score but Im really looking forward for IM3 , hopefully Debney will expand his musical motifs there (if he of course gets attached to the project…)

    In the meantime, Iron Man´s theme is a very heroic one!

  3. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Saturday 8 December, 2012 at 11:38

    I can’t really fathom why you describe the opening cue as “Spider-Man without the theme” – are we listening to the same track? Because my opening cue is an enormous Russian-sounding thing with low male choir and electric guitar accompaniment, and couldn’t sound less like Spider-Man.

  4. orion_mk3 (Reply) on Sunday 7 September, 2014 at 00:24

    I’d have to differ with you on the lack of a strong theme for Iron Man: it’s right there in “I Am Iron Man” and “Monaco” and not too far from Brian Tyler’s theme in “Iron Man 3” to boot. For me, the problem isn’t the lack of themes, but rather the fact that they’re not incorporated consistently throughout the score.

    I have a more detailed rant thereon up at for the curious.