Musical Anatomy Of A Superhero Panel

While I did not attend as many traditional panels this year as I normally try to do at San Diego Comic Con, when I saw the ‘5th Annual Anatomy Of a Superhero’ Panel on the schedule, I knew I had to attend. I love film scores, and I love the superhero genre, so this was a must, and I’m glad that I went. The panel was hosted by Ray Costa, who seemed just as excited as the rest of us in attendance as he called out the composers for the event. Sitting on stage was Brian Tyler (most recently of MCU music fame), Ludwig Goransson (Creed’ and the upcoming ‘Black Panther’ film), Marc Isham (‘Blade,’ ‘Once Upon a Time,’ upcoming Freeform/Marvel series ‘Cloak and Dagger’), and David Russo (who is the composer on ‘Gotham’).

The composers all seemed very excited to be there and talk about their music and love of film score in particular, and each got to show off their latest project with trailers and clips, which meant we got to see the trailer for ‘Black Panther,’ a clip from ‘Thor: The Dark World’ of the funeral of Thor’s mom (which Brian Tyler said was especially cool because it was almost entirely music, which is rare for an MCU film), scenes from ‘Gotham,’ and a trailer for ‘Cloak and Dagger.’ Ludwig Goransson could not say much or share any new music from ‘Black Panther’ with all of the Marvel secrecy, but he did play an interesting recording of some tribal drums he made while visiting Africa that may have inspired some of his work for the film, while Marc Isham spoke on the different tone of ‘Cloak and Dagger’ and why it is going to feel (and sound) very different from the other Marvel series on ABC and Netflix.

During the Q&A, the guys spoke on how they all missed performing live music, and discussed the differences in their styles, as some of like them to compose and conduct their scores, while others like to sit in the booth with the directors while the music is conducted, so they can make notes and view the reactions. When asked a serious question about why there are so few well-known female composers, David Russo answered that he honestly did not know why that was the case, though they all agreed that they are always looking for new talent, male or female, with Marc Ishim in particular stating that on his current staff he has three wonderful female musicians that he works a lot with. They were also questioned about the difference between writing for film or television, and they all agreed that with film they have more time for experimentation and to get everything just right (unless a studio ties their hands with specific demands). They also noted that with the length of a television season and the deadlines that have to be met, it often feels like they have to “barrel through” the music, and often the first idea they have is all they have time to run with, trusting it is the right one.

It was a fascinating panel, and enlightening, as I never thought about things like the break-neck speed of composing music for television (especially network TV) and how talented some of these guys must be to not only get the job done, but to do it as well as they do. I am definitely looking forward to hearing the latest music from all of these composers in their upcoming projects this year!