By Jeremiah Tucker
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?
HAWKEYE and BLACK WIDOW are at a small bar knocking back a few. HAWKEYE selects a song on the jukebox.
BLACK WIDOW: Who is this?
HAWKEYE: Shinedown. I’m into them in a big way. You like it?
BLACK WIDOW: UhÉ
HAWKEYE: Funny story. I was practicing my super-archery at the gym the other day while listening to the radio when this song came on. I mean, it sounded great. You know generic, super-compressed hard rock but with like really unremarkable singing? Anyway, at first I thought it was Nickleback, but then I was like, “Hawk, that’s ridiculous. Every Nickleback song ever recorded rests inside your soul, playing on an endless loop powered by your heartbeat. That’s what your Chad Kroeger back tattoo means.” So eventually I had to Shazam it with my Droid. Turns out it was Shinedown, and it’s been a real love affair ever since.
BLACK WIDOW: I’m going home.
TONY STARK and CLINT BARTON (HAWKEYE) are sitting in STARK’S office going over some designs for new trick arrows. In walks PEPPER POTTS, STARK’s assistant.
PEPPER: There you are. (Hands Tony a stack of papers.) These need your signature.
STARK: Clint, would you mind? Just make the “S” prominent. Scribble the rest.
PEPPER: And Nick Fury is demanding that Stark Industries repair the high school your little Avengers club damaged fighting The Wrecker last week. He blames you, personally.
STARK: He said that? Me personally? That was not my fault, Pepper. His name is The Wrecker.
PEPPER: For some good publicity, he also wants you to book a famous band to play a concert at the school’s prom, and announce it tonight at the Stark Expo.
(STARK puts his hands behind his head and leans back in his chair, exhaling loudly.)
STARK: Wow. Well, right off the top of my head, I’d have to say Scott Weiland is an obvious choice
POTTS: Scott Weiland?
STARK: There are a lot of big “12 Bar Blues” fans at that school. I guarantee it.
HAWKEYE: What about Buckcherry?
STARK: Bullseye! Write that down, Pepper. A solid backup should Weiland overdose before or during the prom.
POTTS: We polled the kids. Their top three picks were Skrillex, Drake or Taylor Swift.
LOKI’s enemy army is closing in. It doesn’t look good for the heroes.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Hold the line, soldiers!
HAWKEYE: I’m down to three arrows, Cap.
BLACK WIDOW: (Loads her gun.) This is my last clip.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: I’ve survived worse odds.
HAWKEYE: All three are trick arrows, Cap. Cushy boxing-glove tips, Cap.
IRON MAN: I know what we need.
THOR: All I require is the power of Mjolnir.
HULK: Ha! Hulk not need puny hammer to smash aliens.
IRON MAN: Jarvis, reroute power to my external intelli-speakersÑmaximum power!
(IRON MAN flies to the front of the group, just as the aliens surround the team.)
IRON MAN: (Dramatic close-up.) Queue the new Bush single.