First of all a quick review of Ant-Man: It’s a really fun film, a breath of fresh air from Marvel that focuses more on character and intimate storytelling than exaggerated action. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, just it’s nice to have a change every once in a while. Oh, and Michael Pena is brilliant!
But what I wanted to focus on is the Theme composed by Christophe Beck. Not the entire score, just the Ant-Man theme.
In a recent interview Director Peyton Reed said that he got Beck on board because he knew he could trust his friend to come up with a new superhero theme, which would aim for the heights of John Williams’ Superman and Danny Elfman’s Batman.
Whilst Beck hasn’t quite climbed to those dizzying heights, what he has done is something rarely seen in comic book movies (or many modern-day movies full stop), in creating a piece of music that defines the character, whilst encapsulating the story and hinting at the evolution of the hero’s journey; all in a cue less than three minutes in length.
Before we go on, here’s the music:
For those that haven’t seen Ant-Man yet, I’m not going to spoil it, but I think it is common knowledge that it’s a heist movie. From the opening few notes gently plucked on pizzicato strings, followed by playful flute, the theme is wearing its predecessors on its sleeve. You get that Pink Panther/Mission Impossible vibe, letting us know the film will be light in tone and full of mischief.
But already, even around the twenty-second mark we get the melody dropping to a minor key to tell us that there is melancholy and hidden danger. And as the end of the phrase beckons, a single violin joins to harmonise and create the heroic notes that will stir us later in the story.
In terms of what comes next, we get the same phrase repeated a few times only with more layers and added bombast. It takes that initial playfulness and replaces it with orchestral might, to remind us this is about big things happening to a small person (very literally in this case). And as the layers add up, including pounded percussion and bold brass notes, it turns into a fanfare, announcing that this ordinary guy, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) will soon morph into a true hero.
As I said up top, it’s rare to find a cue that so completely sums up the story, the main character and the tone of the entire movie. Christophe Beck is obviously a guy to go to if you have a brief, because he can clearly nail that brief!