Although Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse may be just making its way out of theatres as of this writing, the Marvel train waits for no one, and we’re already being promised another swinging foray this summer with Spider-Man: Far From Home.
A clear continuation of the musical choices for 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first twenty seconds uses a mixed-down, almost indistinct rhythm track for the full song that follows, allowing the dialogue centre stage. This soft, rhythmic intro has become a hallmark characteristic of recent lighthearted/comedic trailers.
After the awkward moment between Happy, Aunt May, and Peter, the studio cards come in with the guitar for the Ramones’ seminal punk rock classic, “I Wanna Be Sedated.” Subtle sound effects are added, such as at 0:31, to reinforce the action. Of course, the lyrics “take me to the airport / hurry on a plane” are edited in when Peter boards his cross-Atlantic flight. It’s intended to be a simple school trip but, of course, turns out to be much more.
The music carries on unabated until 1:07, where, in a twist of likely intentional irony, the lyric “sedated” is cut off with the rest of the track when Peter’s friend Ned is tranquillized from the back by Nick Fury, who is present to enlist Peter. The music takes an entirely different turn here; ominous synthesizers and rollicking bass turn the mood on a dime, only to be turned again at 1:25 as it cuts out to reveal Ned, humorously passed out.
The thunderous percussion at 1:28 marks the clear midpoint of the trailer as brass call out the signature Spider-Man theme, while also adding in some melodic variations that retain the same rhythm. Notice at 1:48 how the melody is unexpectedly rhythmically displaced – usually the downward pentatonic melodic line occurs in the middle of the bar; instead, it is re-harmonized and placed at the beginning of the bar, offering a refreshing twist on the old, familiar theme, conveying a jubilant sense of heroism.
As the film’s key villain, Mysterio, appears, we get an extended action sequence with a percussion-only backing, a small reprieve from the theme so that its final and most complete pronouncement at 2:18 can achieve maximum impact. Of course, one final joke closes things out between the title and date cards.
Note how, near the end of the trailer, the theme music rests on the dominant chord, prolonging the final resolution of the music until after this last punchline is delivered. This serves two purposes: bringing a satisfying conclusion at the end of the trailer, and giving space for one last joke, where the button or turn phrase normally falls. This exemplifies how smoothly this trailer’s editing blends comedy and action trailer editing techniques for equal parts laughter and awe.
Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theatres July 5th.
– Curtis Perry