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The “Avengers: Infinity War” Trailer: A Musical Analysis

By Paulo Camacho

It was an event almost decade in the making. Marvel fans, the YouTube Reactor community, and the internet alike, had been waiting on it, with bated breath. Then, on November 29th, it dropped to the squealing delight of millions of moviegoers:

The long-awaited “Avengers: Infinity War” Official Trailer.

Representing the culmination of the 18 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will have come before it, “Infinity War” will feature an unprecedented cast of A-List stars, seen together on-screen in a Marvel film for the first time ever. By all accounts, the film will depict the much-anticipated battle between the many established superheroes of the MCU, and the universe’s most formidable foe, the Mad Titan Thanos, equipped with his fabled Infinity Gauntlet. Slated for a May 4, 2018 release date, “Avengers: Infinity War” is expected to be a cinematic spectacle, and “the Marvel Movie to End All Marvel Movies” — at least, until the next Marvel film (“Ant-Man & The Wasp,” set for release July 6, 2018).

While there were some lucky attendees of San Diego Comic-Con 2017, who were treated to an exclusive special trailer for the film, Wednesday’s trailer is the first for “Infinity War” meant for the general public. Marvel’s PR department, for good measure, hyped up the World Premiere even further by releasing an official trailer tease — featuring various “Reactor” YouTubers that had reacted to Marvel movie trailers over the past decade — 24 hours before the release of the official trailer.

Apparently, it was effective — between the many reactors on YouTube and the Marvel-hungry internet fanbase, all told the trailer was viewed an astonishing 230 million times, and is being hailed as possibly the greatest Marvel movie trailer ever.

As I have covered a number of times before, the music used in movie trailers — especially in the world of the MCU — is vital to the buildup of a given film. Not to mention that movie trailer music serves a vital function as a abbreviated narrative device — it helps the audience understand, in conjunction with the visuals, what to expect from a film. It isn’t hyperbole to say that the music in the “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer employs their use of music perfectly — the seasoned viewer will feel a combination of chilling nostalgia and eager anticipation when watching the trailer, using nothing but variations on a familiar theme.

It begins with a single piano playing a simple version of Alan Silvestri’s original theme to “The Avengers,” as its various members — Nick Fury, Tony Stark, Vision, Thor, and Black Widow — recite a version of Fury’s famous line from the original Avengers film, stating the reason for forming the team in the first place. The lingering piano theme plays off of the nostalgic feel to the opening narrative, while leaving an air of haunting, in anticipation for the game-changing conflict to come.

Then, as the Marvel Studios Title Card flashes on the screen, in come the strings with a dissonant minor chord. The chord lingers as the classic Silvestri theme enters, leaving the viewer uneasy as to what is about to unfold on-screen. As the trailer transitions to an ominous monologue by Thanos, the strings play a dark melody as a single drum beat drives the audience’s sense of foreboding.

When Peter Parker’s spidey-sense is visibly triggered, you hear three drum beats, almost like the beating of a primitive war drum. They serve as an audible cue that, in the film’s context, death and destruction is nigh. And, as the MCU films have effectively built to this movie, Thanos is the embodiment of death and destruction. If you listen for the music immediately following those drum beats, you can almost hear a Silvestri-like homage to Chopin’s famous Funeral March, as images of fallen men and women, and Loki offering up the Tesseract to an unknown entity, play on the screen — all ever more ominous cues for the coming war.

As the theme continues to build, we see the big reveal of Thanos, as the carnage surrounding him is accentuated in the spliced clips shown. The music, in tandem, turns to a melodic dissonance. And, while the trailer rattles up excitement with the reveal of the many heroes that will appear in the film, the main theme — as the music indicates — is the seemingly insurmountable odds for the Avengers in their struggle with Thanos, his army, and his quest to retrieve the six Infinity Stones. Throughout much of the MCU timeline, Thanos has represented the godlike villain figure, and audiences have been asking the question, “How can the Avengers possibly defeat him?” It is that dissonant, bleak variant on the Avengers theme, that reflects this existential doubt in both the audience, and the heroes, themselves.

The theme reaches its anticipated crescendo when we see the epic imagery of a group of Avengers — Captain America, Black Panther, Winter Soldier, Falcon, Hulk and War Machine — leading an elite Wakandan army in an epic fight against a legion of enemy forces sent by Thanos. The sight, alone, is reminiscent of other gigantic fight scenes like those seen in Lord of the Rings, The Mummy Returns, or 300. That’s when the main Silvestri theme for the Avengers plays, bringing the trailer to a triumphant, nostalgic conclusion. The stinger at the end of the trailer only adds to the excitement for May of 2018.

The Official Trailer for “Avengers: Infinity War” did what it set out to do — it gave the film all the hype and anticipation they could have ever asked for. And it accomplished this with a combination of music and visuals that Marvel Studios has thoroughly mastered over the decade of its existence. With the film’s release still five months away, there’s no telling what else the team at Marvel can do with their trailers — and their trailer music — to continue tugging at the fans’ emotional heartstrings.


Do YOU want to learn how to analyze music like the author above? Check out Picardy Learning, to get started.

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