Words cannot fully express how utterly astounding Alan Silvestri’s work for Avengers: Endgame is, but I’ll do my best.
Avengers: Endgame as a movie is just…something else. It’s a fantastic conclusion to a ten-year-long saga and I pretty much loved every minute of it. Don’t worry though, that’s all I’ll say about the movie itself, though please bear in mind that spoilers will likely follow in the review, as music always says a lot about what’s happening alongside it.
Personally, I believe that one of the major reasons why Endgame is just so damn good is because of Alan Silvestri’s score. I’ve always been rather critical of his work for Marvel, as other than his themes (The Avengers, Captain America) and a couple of action cues I’ve found his scores rather unremarkable. Take his music for Infinity War as an example; other than Even For You and Forge, there isn’t much in the way of standout music there. One could even argue that Forge too falls into that category, as the best moment of that track is a new rendition of the Avengers theme, which was first composed back in 2012.
That being said however, Silvestri’s work for Avengers: Endgame far outclasses his previous Marvel scores, by quite a lot. I honestly believe that this is one of his best scores, ever. And the big reason for this? Emotion. Silvestri clearly knows that the story is ending, and so uses previous established and newly crafted themes to their fullest extent. There’s no holding back. The sheer power of Avengers: Endgame both in dramatic highs and solemn lows is breathtaking at worst, and jaw-dropping at best.
The album opens with Totally Fine, starting with a strings-based and very solemn new rendition of the Infinity War track from last year’s Avengers score. Things rather rapidly then switch up however, as Silvestri takes us on a new (and much sadder) path with high pitched strings and low backing brass. We’re two minutes in and the composer has already hit with a pretty severe emotional gutpunch. Thankfully though, solemnity gets replaced by slight heroism and just a twinge of hope in No Trust, a much more traditional Silvestri-sounding brass-heavy piece that starts hinting at the Avengers theme quite early on before then moving into a full and brilliantly epic rendition of it as the opening logos roll.
The action is then stepped up a notch in Where Are They?, a tense and rather frantic track that completely eliminates all previously hinted elements of heroism. This is an Alan Silvestri action track pure and simple, but without the fun or hope of his previous work. A tone is really being set here in the opening moments of Avengers: Endgame, and it’s not a happy one. Things then dip right back down into heartbreaking territory with the slow and strings-heavy Becoming Whole Again, a somber tone that continues through I Figured It Out and then finishes up rather rapidly in Perfectly Not Confusing as the first seeds of hope are embraced by Silvestri and allowed to flourish. A hint of the Avengers theme also pops up for a few seconds, an enjoyable moment that then gets knocked out of the park by a surprising but very welcome rendition of the full Captain America theme, which really hammers home this new hopeful tone.
The composer then kicks it up several more notches with One Shot, a track that makes a smile spread on your face immediately as it opens with the first few notes of the Avengers theme, and then doesn’t stop. The brass gets more prominent, the strings get faster, and heroism then finally gets its moment as one of the best superhero themes of all time gets its first full playthrough on the album. It’s been a long time coming, and so it feels well deserved.
The next few tracks are a mix of action and emotion as the second act of the movie unfolds. The Tool Of A Thief opens with another short-but-effective brass-based rendition of Captain America’s theme before then treating us to a good few minutes of pure Silvestri-style action, whereas The Measure Of A Hero starts off in action territory but quickly then discards it in favour of low, heartfelt strings as the composer once again settles back into rather sorrowful territory. This blending of two distinct tones is one of the many reasons why Avengers: Endgame as a score really stands out to me; it’s not just a superhero score, but it doesn’t hang around being sad for too too long either. It’s a pretty perfect balance of the two throughout, and that’s fantastic.
In Plain Sight harkens back to the musical style of Christophe Beck’s Ant-Man at points, using those heist-like sneaky percussion instruments (you know the ones) in combination with a smidge of smooth jazz and a few hints of the Avengers theme. How Do I Look? then moves into much darker territory, using rapid strings and ominous brass along with a welcome reappearance of Thanos’ motif from Infinity War. This is I think the first time we hear true villainy in Endgame, and it feels like the missing piece of the puzzle that we didn’t know we needed. Thanos doesn’t hang around for long however as solemnity takes point again in Whatever It Takes, a sad yet kind of hopeful strings-based piece that then segues nicely into Not Good, a track of similar style that finishes up with a reprise of the Even For You theme from Infinity War. There features many a musical callback throughout the album (and the film), that are used pretty much perfectly; not so little that they feel like cameos, but not so much that they feel like repetition.
Thanos’ theme returns in Tres Amigos, bringing the darker side of the score along with it as the tension begins to build up again. Low brass and rapid strings open the piece, setting a gloomy tone that then continues throughout the track and into the first half of Tunnel Scape. Things then switch up for the second half as the brass gets louder and the strings faster as the wall-to-wall Silvestri action arrives. Tension starts to rise again as the composer clearly starts to build up to something, and it must be something good as the tension lasts a while, moving out of Tunnel Scape and all the way through Worth It, an excellent action setpiece that features many an appearance of the Captain America theme in all its glory.
Everything however, has been building up to this moment. It’s tied for standout cue with a later track, and together these two are Alan Silvestri’s best pieces of compositional work for the Marvel franchise, and a serious argument could be made as some of his best music ever. Portals opens with slow and incredibly dramatic drums, before then escalating into a jaw-droppingly epic rendition of a brand new theme for the Avengers. For these three glorious minutes, the composer simply goes all out, and I don’t think I have ever heard Alan Silvestri truly go all out before. And as if the track couldn’t get any more heroic, for the final minute the new theme then segues seamlessly into the best rendition of the original Avengers theme ever composed. It’s actually quite hard to put into words exactly how musically godlike this track is, so I’ll just put it here.
Rapid strings then open Get This Thing Started, which then join up with frantic brass and tense percussion to form a lengthy five-minute-long action track. There’s many a thematic and stylistic callback to the first Avengers score here, but like much of the album it’s done in such a masterful way that it doesn’t just feel like a rehash of old work. It feels like a conclusion.
Sorrow then returns with its hardest-hitting notes yet for much of the remainder of the album. It begins with You Did Good, a quiet piece that uses very light strings and soft piano notes for its mood setting, and despite its simplicity it is an incredibly effective piece of music. If you’re going to cry anywhere on this score, it’s here. The tone then injects a small sliver of courage into the score with The Real Hero, keeping the same solemn and serious mood but adding just a dash of hope into the mix, which in all honesty is a pretty good description for the album overall. About a minute in, the brass then returns to really hammer home the mood with a heart-wrenching burst of musical anguish. The new Avengers theme then gets a heavy strings-based rendition to finish up the track, delivering one final emotional blow to wrap up the piece.
Main On Ends is the other standout cue of Avengers: Endgame, being the thankfully hopeful finale to the album, and a pretty perfect three-minute-long bridge between the old and new Avengers themes. It’s a perfect track to end a damn near perfect album, wrapping up the entire Alan Silvestri Avengers saga with a neat little bow as his two greatest pieces of thematic work for the franchise come together for one last time. The opening two minutes belong entirely to the new Avengers theme, with a new strings-heavy rendition that strikes a perfect balance between hope and sorrow. Sheer heroism then gets its final moment in the back half of the track as the original Avengers theme takes a last bow. It’s a truly beautiful piece of music, and a very fitting conclusion to Endgame.
Overall, Alan Silvestri’s score for Avengers: Endgame is simply astonishing. Unlike with his previous work for Marvel, the composer just doesn’t hold back here, delivering incredible musical moments and huge emotional blows throughout the album with each one somehow outdoing the previous. His new Avengers theme was an unexpected but very welcome surprise, and the fact that it works astoundingly well with the original theme is just the icing on top of a frankly ridiculously good cake. It is difficult to put into words just how well crafted this score is, and for the first time in a long time I found myself truly speechless at its sheer quality after my first listen. For that and many other reasons, I’m giving it a Perfect Score, as it well and truly deserves it.
Alan Silvestri… a god, you are.
Standout Cues: 28. Portals/ 35. Main On End