Ramin Djawadi’s Iron Man score was fantastic despite the criticism it got. It matched the persona of Tony Stark, created a worthy theme and infused the score with the character. For Iron Man 2 Djawadi was dumped in favor of John Debney who didn’t add much to the second outing, which was a structural mess. Debney’s score tried to sound like Djawadi’s, but with no real identity in the music. We saw Tony Stark lose his identity as well. The film was poorly written and didn’t progress any of the characters. My expectations for Marvel had been at the bottom ever since then. I was continually disappointed by the shabby storytelling in every Marvel film wondering if anything would match the structural excellence of Iron Man. Despite the record-breaking Avengers’ performance, that film too is a dud. It’s an expensive dud, but it was created solely as a crowd pleaser. Finally with Iron Man 3 I had some hope. One of my favorite writers, Shane Black was writing and directing. One of my favorite cinematographers, John Toll was shooting the picture. Then it was announced that Brian Tyler was going to compose, which got me even more excited. All the ingredients were there for a fantastic super hero movie, it was just a matter of was Marvel going to give the creative force behind the scenes enough room to create freely. Based off of Brian Tyler’s score, they did. Iron Man 3’s music totally ignores what came before it, but that’s fine. Brian Tyler has delivered a stunningly superb action score that accompanies Tony Stark’s journey as a character, and the result is a stunning one.
The theme is the big thing here. This isn’t a tiny theme, it’s a theme worthy of the Tony Stark character and calls back to classic big themes like John Williams' Superman and Indiana Jones. We here it in its full glory in the opening track, which serves to introduce us to it. Then as the narrative begins you will notice Tyler break it down into bite-size pieces. The theme variations pop up here and there like a turtle peeking its head out of its shell. What follows is a perfectly structured action score. He has proven his ability to create modern action scores while utilizing the classic sound of an orchestra. This is what makes Brian Tyler stand out beyond the other young composers in Hollywood. He embraces the full power of the orchestra and only relies on electronics if he needs to. Iron Man 3’s score packs every ounce of space on the CD as it clocks in at 1.2 hours, and not a moment is dull. The action arcs are tremendously engaging. There’s no doubt that Black and Tyler worked closely together here. The structure and approach is masterful as every moment hits with a significant weight. The big thing that Tyler adds here is doubt. Something that’s been missing in every Marvel film prior. We actually need to believe our hero is in danger, if there’s no sense of danger then the audience checks out and just watches with a smile on their face. Tyler pumps the danger factor in as well as delicate character touches. These character moments apart from the bold theme add humanity to the music and make it emotionally real. Other textures added such as a twangy guitar, Michael Kamen’s signature sleigh bells (think Die Hard/Lethal Weapon) and fantastic percussion give the score layers. The Mandarin doesn’t get a big theme, but the subtle nature of his motif is perfect. Nothing about it is stereotypical or expected. It’s just a perfectly simple little motif that announces his presence. When we come to the final stretch we finally hear Iron Man’s theme come into full fruition and boy does it induce some goosebumps. Tyler closes the album with his 60’s style “Saturday morning cartoon” style main title sequence, which is an absolute blast.
Iron Man 3 is already one of the best scores of the year. It’s without a doubt the best score to a Marvel produced film and the best action score I've heard from Brian Tyler. While Ramin Djawadi’s Iron Man and Patrick Doyle’s Thor are excellent scores, it’s Brian Tyler’s Iron Man 3 that combines everything you need for a perfect action score and a hero's journey. Brian Tyler did an amazing job given the fact that he had to restructure Iron Man in 1 film. That’s the one thing about it that makes me wish Brian Tyler had composed all 3 films or at least had two films to craft an arc for the character. Hans Zimmer had 3 films to craft a masterpiece of a character arc from start to finish. I’m not trying to say I wish this score was like Hans Zimmer’s Batman scores, not at all. I just wish this character, which we’ve seen in 3 films already had Brian Tyler’s music earlier. Hopefully Brian Tyler is back for more in the future because this is as close to perfect as it gets. Iron Man 3 will take you on a grand ride with plenty of character and emotional resonance. The theme is as big as it gets and it perfectly compliments Tony Stark. Definitely make it a priority to seek this one out.