Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel
Music Composed By: Pinar Toprak
Distributed by: Marvel Music and Hollywood Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Marvel Studios has had great success bringing us the cinematic versions of our favorite comic book heroes. This time around, it’s the tale of Captain Marvel…with a twist. Set in the 1990s, this Captain Marvel story is set in a previously unseen period of history in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We follow Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), former US Air Force fighter pilot and member of the elite military unit known as Starforce, as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when her DNA is altered during an accident. When a galactic war between the Kree and the Skrulls reaches Earth, Danvers and a small cadre of allies find themselves caught in the middle of it all.
The musical score of Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel was created by Turkish-American composer Pinar Toprak. Beginning her classical music education at the age of five, Toprak studied composition and a number of instruments at the conservatory before moving to Chicago to study jazz. She joined Remote Control, the creation of film composer Hans Zimmer. Leaving to make a name for herself, Pinar Toprak has worked on a number of projects for television, video games and film, including Fortnite, Krypton, The River Murders, The Lightkeepers, Justice League, Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil, The Challenger, Breaking Point, Light of Olympia, Ninety-Nine Nights and Falling Water. Pinar Toprak is the first female to compose a score for a Marvel superhero feature film.
From the very first track on this album, Captain Marvel, you know that this is a superhero soundtrack. The track is epic, featuring past-paced strings, heavy percussion, crashing cymbals and heroic horns. This first track attempts to give us a little bit of everything, so we hear some soft strings mixed in, as well as some interesting synths and chorus. In creating the theme for Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Toprak sought to convey both sides of the character. Sure, there is the strength and triumphant power, but there is also a vulnerability underlying, but never undercutting that strength. As Toprak has stated in numerous interviews, this is the heart of the character and this first track perfectly defines our main character.
Recorded with 90 musicians at the Abbey Road Studios in London, the Marvel Studio’s Captain Marvel Soundtrack features a number of sounds from the era in which the film takes place. There was a surge of electronic instruments and methods in the 1980s and 90s and the movie scores from that era definitely depict an electronic vibe. As a nod to both the time setting and the science fiction side of the film, Toprak incorporated those electronic sounds in the score. The first time you hear them after the main title track is Let's Bring Him Home, an action track featuring an alien-like synth vibe and heavy percussion in addition to horns and a choir. Photos of Us features that same synth sound and choir, but is softer in tone, showing us the human side of Danvers…and that vulnerability in her character.
The Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel Soundtrack is an incredibly dramatic superhero score that perfectly represents what Captain Marvel is all about. Pinar Toprak certainly knew what she was doing when she set out to create a theme for Carol Danvers before creating the rest of the themes for the film. That dramatically strong, sometimes alien and always emotional sound contrasts well with the rest of the themes in the film and that action hero sound has made me want to see a movie I originally had no interest in seeing. My congratulations to Pinar Toprak on her rise as the first female Marvel superhero film composer. Having proven herself in this medium, I hope to hear more from her. I also hope Marvel sees the unique insight female composers have into the psyche of female characters and decide to hire on more female composers for their superhero films.