Note: This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or, perhaps, on your own remote planet sitting on your porch looking over your Garden™), you know Avengers: Endgame took the world by storm last week to become the biggest opening in movie history.
A culmination of 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) , the film itself is a showcase of the narrative art form and an achievement of serial character development. The brilliance of the story’s intricacies is accentuated by a superb soundtrack from Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri. Read on for our soundtrack review of Avengers: Endgame!
Silvestri is no stranger to the MCU, having previously helped lay a solid foundation for the franchise with Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and The Avengers (2012), and later returning to score Avengers: Infinity War (2018). His work for Avengers: Endgame unsurprisingly pairs wonderfully with the action onscreen while still managing to throw in some arrangements we might not anticipate from a Marvel adventure.
Endgame navigates many, many threads, delicately balancing strikingly different tones musically across its three acts. Much of the first hour of the movie carries heavy emotional baggage, and with it comes appropriately somber but perhaps skippable tracks.
Once the story really steps into motion as the heroes concoct their “time heist” scheme, Silvestri shines in infusing a prison escape treatment to the traditional Avengers fanfare, which carries consistently through the entire second act. Whether with bongos or with jazz, the music becomes its own character here, allowing the audience to be invested into the plot, but still having enough fun to not be overburdened by the complexities of the semi-confusing rules of time travel.
It’s also in the second act that the story feels the most like a comic book, with settings changing wildly and beats coming quickly. From a score standpoint, Silvestri makes the most of opportunities to encapsulate a swell of comic action within just a few bars. When the words “New York” are slapped across the scene and we’re suddenly back in 2012, the music in the track “Watch Each Other’s Six” almost feels like a hyperrealized, exaggerated version of its own former self from that original sequence that immediately takes us to that place.
Likewise, when 2014 Thanos realizes the Avengers’ plan and Nebula panics to communicate to Black Widow and Hawkeye, her distress is heightened by a marvelous piece of score in “Destiny Fulfilled.” Random, but also of note, is a wonderful bit of chime work in the track “I Can’t Risk This” as Tony and Scott go incognito into the Stark Tower lobby to retrieve the Tesseract. It adds a lovely, magical quality to the scene, and big-picture reminds us that this movie truly is magic.
The climax of the film is not just the epicenter of this individual story, but the crescendo of an 11-year film experiment, and rightly so is as grand of a finale as we could possibly have asked for. The battle sequence is classic Silvestri. The track titled “Portals,” during which all of the snapped heroes valiantly return and unite against Thanos, elicits nothing short of chills (and, in the theater, even prompted cheers). It’s also here that the main Avengers theme is given its arguably most epic arrangement to date, all building up to Captain America saying two words we’ve been waiting a decade to hear come out of his mouth.
The standout piece of the entire soundtrack, though, is “The Real Hero,” a track whose melody plays briefly at the very beginning of the film and featured more prominently in the Stark funeral scene. Visually stunning, a single shot weaves its way through an unprecedented gathering of MCU royalty. As the camera does this, Silvestri reduces us to a puddle of tears with a beautiful instrumental.
With the film being a major crossover event of nearly two dozen characters representing a handful of different series (and soundtracks), callbacks to prior Marvel scores are sprinkled throughout Endgame‘s notes. The most prominent of these is Silvestri’s own Captain America theme, prominently soaring as Steve passes the shield on to Sam.
Avengers: Endgame is the movie event of a generation. It’s quite special to be gifted to the world accompanied by a composer with such multi-generational impact. Alan Silvestri’s influence in Hollywood history is an irreplaceable one, and Endgame‘s soundtrack earns its place in his iconic library.
Edited by: Morgan Stradling