Tony Black reviews the Spider-Man: Homecoming score…
Michael Giacchino continues his journey to become the heir apparent to John Williams by delivering two very different, major blockbuster movie scores this month, yet both of which are distinctly Giacchino to anyone with an ear for film music. Spider-Man: Homecoming is Giacchino at play, very much in the wheelhouse he imbues when scoring a Mission Impossible or Star Trek movie; rousing, fast-paced themes filled with championing brass, triumphant piano and blasting drums. And yet it also feels like a Marvel score, if there is such a thing. The franchise has been accused of, musically, having little to say but over the last couple of years, that consensus is changing. Giacchino impressed with Doctor Strange last year but with Homecoming he’s having as much fun as we are listening, and it shines through. It would be impossible not to be smiling the moment you hear his wonderful reworking leitmotif of the legendary 1960’s Spider-Man cartoon series theme.
While placing his own stamp on Spider-Man and the Marvel universe, Giacchino is bold enough right from the off in ‘The World is Changing’ to tap briefly into Alan Silvestri’s wonderful theme from The Avengers (which is very relevant for plot purposes) before veering off and blending a sense of escalating threat with a light, high school touch. His strings are hugely playful in many places, such as ‘High Tech Heist’ where a light use of flute manages to capture the creeping, sneaky fun of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. His music is often knockabout without being camp, cartoonish or throwaway, grounded in that sense of heroism which pulses through some of the earlier Marvel movies.
Perhaps intentionally this recalls The Avengers by Silvestri perhaps more than any Marvel movie since – tracks such as ‘Monumental Meltdown’ fusing the Spider-Man hero motif alongside Giacchino’s signature, ascending rhythmic drum beats which build that sense of scale and suspense. It really pays off in ‘Life Off’, ‘Fly by Night Operation’ and ‘Vulture Clash’ where the battle between Peter & the Vulture is writ large with that Silvestri level of grandeur from The Avengers over a trilogy of consistently exciting tracks. Before that Giacchino taps that level of brooding darkness he’s very capable of in ‘Pop Vulture’, which superbly captures a sequence where Peter makes a disturbing discovery with a sense of undulating drums and a level of foreboding.
On the whole though, Michael Giacchino’s score for Spider-Man: Homecoming is rip-roaring superhero adventure music at its finest, bringing together a playful level of teenage fun with a heroic series of themes and leitmotifs, all fused with Giacchino’s trademark level of cinematic, almost tribal grandeur, and more than a little nod to Alan Silvestri and the wider context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe music overall. It’s probably not Giacchino’s personal best but it’s his strongest Marvel effort to date and continues to punch up the level of music in the Marvel universe. It’ll be fun to see what he may do with a Spider-Man sequel in a couple of years.