Every Frame a Painting explains why MCU and modern movie music is similar and forgettable


Tony Zhou’s video series Every Frame a Painting is an excellent resource for people interested in the craft and aesthetics of filmmaking. Zhou is a professional editor, and his video essays cover everything for omnivorous cinephiles, including Akira Kurosawa’s use of movement within the frame, Steven Spielberg’s judicious use of one-shot long takes, Martin Scorsese’s use of silence, and how Jackie Chan stages and constructs action-comedy scenes.

After a few months hiatus, Zhou has returned with a new video essay focusing on the music of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or, as you’ll see, it’s really about how MCU film scores are so forgettable and incidental.

Check out Every Frame a Painting’s “The Marvel Symphonic Universe” video essay below:

The Marvel Symphonic Universe

This has been something I’ve noticed as well for many years, going back to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. The first two in that series were scored by Danny Elfman. Even though Elfman did such memorable, idiosyncratic scores in the 80s and 90s (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Batman 89, Edward Scissorhands), Spider-Man and much of his work since 2000 hasn’t had that distinctive whimsy or flair. It appears the reason for that is this homogenization of film scores.

For instance, every now and then you hear certain kinds of scores and certain kinds of music repeated in certain kinds of scenes. I think The Shawkshank Redemption in particular might have kicked off a whole trend in ruminative film music: a lone piano upon which one’s cat accidentally steps on individual keys in just the right sequence to evoke feelings of intense melancholy.

To help illustrate the temp score/final score similarities, Every Frame a Painting has created a supplemental video, which you can see below.

Hollywood Scores & Soundtracks: What Do They Sound Like? Do They Sound Like Things?? Let's Find Out!

So what do you think about modern film music? Let us know in the comments.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.