Beginning in 2008 with Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen many composers join its ranks along the way. While this has led to an issue with the tone of the music throughout the series, it has also delivered many different styles and themes which all have merit in their own way.
The series did have rocky beginnings though. Film music critics were not kind to the MCU's freshman efforts and, though some of the later films would also slip a little, it is clear that along the way, Marvel producers listened to what was being said.
The MCU, for the most part, does not have any sort of house style, which led to some of the continuity errors. Film series like Iron Man and Thor have each seen different composers for each entry, leading to different themes along the way. However, this hasn't always produced negative results. In some cases, it has allowed the later composers to develop on what has come before.
While the grandest themes tend to come from the bigger team up films, some of the more memorable ones have come from the various stand alone entries. When given free reign, the different composers have offered starkly differing styles. This, in a way, perfectly sums up the characters of the MCU. They may (mostly) be fighting on the same side, but there is one serious melting pot of personalities in there.
Starting at the bottom, here we go...
23. Guardians Of The Galaxy
One has to feel a little bad for Tyler Bates. He created a full orchestral score for James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy, and ask anyone which music they remember? Odds are, they'll start to hum Hooked on a Feeling.
While Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 would come to dominate the Billboard chart and most other charts in the release of the film (for good reason), there is actually a score behind it all. Bates has worked with James Gunn on several projects and has courted controversy in the past. His score for Zack Snyder's 300 was accused of plagiarism, leading to a settlement out of court.
So, it was interesting to see what he could bring to the MCU, with its string of several strong scores already. Unfortunately, the answer was that there wasn't all that much new in what was being offered.
There is a lot of Remote Control influence going on here, something that had already been heard on previous scores. The main theme for the Guardians is suitably stirring, though this is one of the few highlights of the score. There is an awful lot of generic cues sort of flopping through the film. Groot Spores stands out but that is not saying an awful lot.
It's fine, it does the job. However, if one were to recommend the soundtrack to Guardians....recommend Awesome Mix instead.