When Marvel made the jump from network television to Netflix no one was really sure what was going to happen. They were going for the "grim and gritty" look and there was a chance it could backfire. Thus far all of the shows have had very different scores and the various composers spoke to Variety about their processes.
Luke Cage was praised for its amazing use of hip-hop in its music. The music, which was composed by Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, was looking to blend a few different styles to make a very unique sound.
"A confluence of multiple genres, a bit of hip-hop, soul, psychedelic rock and classical, combined to show the depth, range and complexities of all the characters," describes Ali Shaheed Muhammad one of the two composers.
The theme of being proud of who you are no matter what anyone else says is a common theme throughout the series and it's one that Muhammad wanted to make sure came through.
"[The series needed music that suggested] pride and value of self and community, fitting of the many dynamics within the show," says Muhammad.
Producer Cheo Hodari Coker apparently loved hip-hop which also helped shape the sound the series was going for.
"[It] was the basis for his vision for the sound of Luke Cage," Muhammad adds, "bridging sampled music with live instrumentation. Adrian would play bass and drums, and I would play guitar and keys, or vice versa."
Trevor Morris was tasked with making the music for Iron Fist and he wanted to make sure it was different from the previous themes we've heard so far.
"[The challenge was to find] a unique sound and color palette to distinguish it from the other Defenders," says Morris. "Danny Rand is a younger character and listens on his headphones to music from the '80s and '90s, so it was very much an all-synth style score."
Danny's ipod playlist served as inspiration but also the fact that this show brought in a bunch of themes from Asian cultures which Morris wanted to add to the score.
Morris "toyed a lot with how much Asian influence to add. In the end we did add some of those flairs, but heavily processed, in keeping with the modern approach."
Tyler Bates, who is a Marvel veteran that has worked on both of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, is the composer for The Punisher. As someone who also worked on the John Wick series he knew the mindset he wanted to bring to the music.
"[I] really wanted to get into the dark corners of the Punisher's mind," and began by playing blues guitar. But "it had to be more of a broken blues," he explained, sometimes with talkbox effects and other "guitar noises," as he puts it.
We've seen some of that "broken blues" in the footage that aired during The Defenders panel at Comic-Con International. The footage showed Frank playing the guitar only it would switch between a bright and happy Frank playing with his family and dark and bloody Frank playing by himself. Bates thought that suited the character.
"I love playing music like that," Bates says. "The rough edges and broken nature of it leaves a great deal of space for emotion and interesting color – and a bit of an attitude. Otherwise it's not going to be an authentic expression of the idea. There's a darkness in there that I'm happy to tap into."
Luke Cage and Iron are available to stream on Netflix. The Punisher is expected to drop in late 2017.