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“The biggest inspiration was collaboration and awesome power from our three leads,” says composer Laura Karpman on the overall inspiration for the music created in Marvel’s latest film, The Marvels.
“It’s bigger in scale than a lot of the other stuff I’ve done. You have orchestras; you’ve got big thematic material,” says Karpman. But she’s no stranger to Marvel, having already composed music for series What If…? and Ms. Marvel.
The Marvels carries on the continuity from Ms. Marvel, explaining what caused Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) to switch places with Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
What we last know of Carol Danvers is that she reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and took revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences have led to Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilised universe.
When her duties send her to a strange wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) who was reintroduced as an adult in the TV series, WandaVision. This unlikely trio must team up and learn to work together to save the universe.
“I had already worked on What If…? and I think that the people who I worked on it with, they became fans of mine,” Karpman says. She got the chance to be involved in The Marvels after somebody suggested she meet with director Nia DaCosta.
“We talked a lot about the character arcs of the individuals, but also of the team evolving. We talked about the villain, her arc, and her journey. When you meet with a director or a creative person on a film, you dive deep into what’s going on in the film and how music can help,” she explains.
“She loves voices. She loves low voices. That was something that she said to me. She said she wanted a space opera. She said she wanted a big superhero action theme. So, all of this was literally music to my ears.
“The idea was to really create a strong theme for the collective, and so it’s following the arc of the collective rather than individuals. But then music is kind of rendered in different ways for the individual journey.”
Much like her past works, Karpman researched and experimented with globally diverse sounds, recording early on with two small choirs consisting of a South Asian Carnatic singer, three low basses, and South African singers. Karpman wanted those unique sounds “to percolate” and included world-famous percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who is deaf.
“Evelyn hears through her body,” she says, “and in space, there is no sound; you only feel vibrations, which then feel like sound. So, for me, that was the perfect analogy in terms of what space sounds like.”
Karpman created a unique soundscape that still fits within the MCU.
“I have a lot of favourite pieces. I love the theme. I love Dar-Benn’s (played by Zawe Ashton) music; I think that’s really wild and kind of jazzy in its own weird way,” she says, unable to choose a favourite piece.
She adds: “I love that the fans love music and notice music.”
‘The Marvels’ is in cinemas now