When Guardians of the Galaxy hit it big in 2014, one of its most popular aspects was its music. Star-Lord’s Awesome Mixtape became an overwhelming success with fans, bringing back a catchy collection of retro pop songs that gave the film its own unique charm. But of course, Guardians had much more than licensed music as part of its soundtrack. As with any other blockbuster, there was also a classical score, composed by Tyler Bates.
Bates is returning for next summer’s sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is an exciting film for several reasons. Not only is it the continuing adventures of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and baby Groot, it sees the addition of brand new characters to one of Marvel’s most lucrative franchises. Pom Klementieff is joining the team as Mantis, and Kurt Russell is on board allegedly as Peter Quill’s mysterious father. Seeing these fresh faces come to life is a thrilling proposition, and not just for the fans, but also for Bates as he crafts more music for the film.
Bates spoke with Screen Rant at a roundtable following the Musical Anatomy of a Superhero panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. He talked about what he’s most looking forward to with his work on the sequel, stating that he’s already seen scenes with his new material:
“The thing that I felt about that is that it’s an expansion of the vocabulary of the score. So that’s cool. Especially having an understanding of how score works in the context of Guardians. I’m not suggesting that I understand exactly how the score is going to go, but we have established a language so it’s exciting to add to that. I’ve seen some sequences from the new movie with new music and it’s very moving and exciting. And so, I can’t say anything too specifically about it, but it’s got me pumped because I’m going into it already with having seen music developed for this movie.”
Most people are going to be more interested in the track list for Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2, but the themes Bates comes up with this time around should also be fascinating. Guardians is arguably one of Marvel’s more emotional films, underscored by a tale of friendship and family. Since the driving force of Vol. 2 is Star-Lord learning about his past and who is father is, there’s the potential for cues that touch the heart and strike a powerful chord with the viewer. Several moviegoers know how a great musical score can elevate a scene to the next level, and Bates’ history with director James Gunn and this particular brand should come in handy.
When viewers think of sequels, they think of the universe in which it takes place expanding, so the same principle can be applied to the music as well. It would arguably be a wasted opportunity if Bates just recycled the themes from the first Guardians and didn’t bring anything new to the table. The Imperial March is one of the most iconic songs in cinema history, but didn’t make its debut until The Empire Strikes Back. Even if Guardians 2 didn’t have any new characters, Bates would still likely be looking for ways to grow that musical vocabulary, since the crew would find themselves in a different situation than before.
Whatever Bates has in store, it will probably compliment the action and dramatic moments very well. His score for the original film was well-received and hit all its marks, adding a nice element to the final product that made it feel more impactful. Guardians is quickly becoming known for an interesting blend in music, and there should be several songs fans associate with the sequel as the marketing campaign heats up. Hopefully there’s at least one or two themes people hum to themselves while waiting for the next Awesome Mixtape to download.
Doctor Strange opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2– May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018;Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.