JOPLIN, Mo. —
Opening today nationwide is “The Avengers,” the movie that brings together the cinematic versions of many of Marvel Comics biggest names: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk and, uh, Hawkeye.
What has intrigued me most about the movie is its soundtrack, which assembles new songs from some of the mightiest grunge and post-grunge acts.
All your favorites from the mid-to-late ‘90s and early aughts are here: Soundgarden, Bush, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, Shinedown, Papa Roach, Buckcherry and Evanescence. The last time there was a big rock soundtrack this stylistically cohesive was “The Crow” in 1994, which coincidentally was the same year Soundgarden had their biggest hit with “Black Hole Sun.”
The connection between goth music and “The Crow,” another comic book movie, was clear. The Crow was an overtly goth anti-hero. The connection between “The Avengers” and a bunch of mostly B-list rock bands whose best years are behind them is murkier.
The selection of bands here seems so weirdly specific and narrow it’s almost as if the soundtrack is implying this is the music “The Avengers” themselves would listen to. With that in mind, I’ve re-created some scenes from the movie where exactly that happens.
STEVE ROGERS (CAPTAIN AMERICA) is relaxing in his apartment listening to some John Phillips Sousa marches on his gramophone. In walks TONY STARK (IRON MAN).
STARK: What are you listening to? Are you Captain America or Captain Grandpa?
ROGERS: C’mon, Tony. I’m trying to relax. Don’t bust my chops.
STARK: Sorry, Cap, but this is depressing. You’re depressing me. I’m depressed.
(Tony turns off the gramophone. Takes out an iPod-looking device and starts flicking through its touch screen.)
STARK: As you know, Steven, I’m a futurist. I identify trends and create tech by anticipating what mankind needs for the future.
(A lifelike Chris Cornell hologram is projected into the air. The hologram begins to sing as a surprisingly loud rock song blares from the tiny device.)
ROGERS: (Yelling) What is this noise?
STARK: I call it the Cornellogram. It’s a new device I whipped up in my lab. Now anyone can watch Chris Cornell sing their favorite Soundgarden and Audioslave songs whenever and wherever they want.
ROGERS: This is what new music sounds like?
STARK: I’ll put it this way: if this music were a woman and that woman was a gymnast, then this music would be only a few years past its prime.
ROGERS: But É this is what’s popular?
STARK: Popular-ish. Sure. With some people. But just wait until the Cornellogram hits store shelves.
ROGERS: Can this device play anything besides Soundgarden and Audioslave?
STARK: You like Temple of the Dog?