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Iron Man 3 (Brian Tyler)

July 15, 2013

Cover_ironman3_TylerIRON MAN 3 (SCORE)

Brian Tyler, 2013, Hollywood Records
20 tracks, 75.53

Following in the footsteps of Ramin Djawadi and John Debney respectively, Brian Tyler delivers a score for “Iron Man 3” that frankly wipes the floor with its predecessors. It’s a bit loud and a bit bombastic, but lush orchestral performances and a glorious main theme make this ‘the’ blockbuster score of the year to date.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Based on the Marvel comics, this is – wait for it – the 3rd Iron Man film. Robert Downey Jr reprises the titular role as he fights off yet another (sorry, his greatest yet) adversary. Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Kingsley also star. Shane Black directs his second film after 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. This third “Iron Man” film welcomes its third composer in the series: Brian Tyler.

What does it sound like?

Staccato strings, building percussion and distant brass lead into a reasonably long-lined heroic theme for horns backed by fat brass stabs and sustained chords for choir. This balls-to-the-wall tune initially revolves around a 9-note melody (coincidentally, so does Tyler’s “Now You See Me“, though that’s where any similarity ends), before offering a B-section and a satisfying closing motif. There is an instant familiarity about this theme and its accompanying rhythms, but it’s too much fun to dwell on any possible temp-track influence. The theme is reprised in all its glorious bombast during “Battle Finale”, before the album closes with an infectiously jazzy (and somewhat cartoonish) rendition of it in “Can You Dig It”?

Tyler’s main theme is the key to this score. As said in the previous paragraph, it is made up from several sections that can be deployed and varied upon individually. This makes it incredibly versatile, enabling the composer to use it (or portions of it) in a multitude of situations – think “Indiana Jones”, for example, where snippets of that theme are enough to evoke an emotional response. As such, over the course of the album Tyler offers heroic, action-packed as well as reflective variations on his main theme.

Without going into a track-by-track analysis, the bulk of the score is loud and aggressive and sees a large orchestra accompanied by choir, plenty of synths and percussion (both live and electronic). In that respect “Iron Man 3” lines up nicely alongside recent blockbuster scores such as “Pacific Rim” and “Man of Steel”. Where “Iron Man 3” excels though is in Tyler’s intelligent orchestral writing, the deployment of satisfying variations on his main theme at regular intervals, as well as the composer’s refusal to let synthesisers take centre stage. The recording and mixing are crisp and clear and allow the orchestra to shine.

The use of string ostinatos, heavy percussion and “Inception”-like brass chords will undoubtedly remind listeners of recent Hans Zimmer scores; but where Zimmer has a tendency to rely on sound and effects as a key ingredient, for Tyler they merely serve as a backing to his thematic material, making “Iron Man 3” a much more rewarding experience.

Is it any good?

It’s tempting to call this a guilty pleasure – until you realise there’s nothing guilty about. Large orchestral writing, creative use of synths and percussion, and a magnificent main theme. What is not to like? Well, it is very loud for a lot of the time. And when it’s not loud, it is still quite oppressive. Most of the score is incredibly hyperactive with only a few moments of respite (again a bit like Tyler’s “Now You See Me“); and with the album coming in at a whopping 76 minutes it does eventually become a little tiring. Simply skipping a few tracks solves that issue. There is intelligent writing going on here. The orchestra delivers a powerhouse performance; and the clear mixing ensures we get to hear every last detail of it. Easily the blockbuster score of the year to date.

Rating [4/5]


1. Iron Man 3 (2:23)
2. War Machine (7:18)
3. Attack on 10880 Malibu Point (4:35)
4. Isolation (2:00)
5. Dive Bombers (2:24)
6. New Beginnings (3:54)
7. Extremis (5:06)
8. Stark (4:31)
9. Leverage (2:15)
10. The Mandarin (2:36)
11. Heat and Iron (5:42)
12. Misfire (3:26)
13. Culmination (2:29)
14. The Mechanic (3:43)
15. Hot Pepper (4:41)
16. Another Lesson From Mandy (2:56)
17. Dr. Wu (2:41)
18. Return (6:20)
19. Battle Finale (3:57)
20. Can You Dig It (Iron Man 3 Main Titles) (2:42)

Album credits

Album credits on

  1. Craig Richard Lysy permalink

    Agreed, although I was a late convert! Nicel review.

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