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Iron Man
Co-Composed and Co-Produced by:
Ramin Djawadi

Co-Composed by:
Lorne Balfe
Atli Ovarsson
Bobby Tahouri
Clay Duncan
Ryeland Allison

Orchestrated by:
Stephen Coleman
Matt Dunkley

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Lions Gate Music

Release Date:
May 6th, 2008

Also See:

Audio Clips:
1. Driving With the Top Down (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. Merchant of Death (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. Vacation's Over (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. Arc Reaktor (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Nominated for a Grammy Award.

Iron Man

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Used Price: $10.71

Sales Rank: 79756

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Buy it... only if you are a fan of the heavier rock side of the Remote Control library and enjoyed the pounding score in the film itself.

Avoid it... if the last thing you need in your film music collection is another Hans Zimmer clone writing simplistic, aimless, and juvenile bombast that strives to be all style and no substance.

Iron Man: (Ramin Djawadi) Defying low expectations is a task difficult for many superhero films in the digital age, but Jon Favreau's Iron Man did just that. One would think that at some point all of the classic Marvel characters will have been expended in their adaptations to the big screen, and yet here comes another surprisingly successful one. Similar in many ways to the concept behind "Batman," the somewhat neurotic "Iron Man" hero uses his wealth to produce a costume in which he can fight crime and, when not in that outfit, flirt with women and rattle off sarcastic commentary. The incredibly surprising popularity of Iron Man's 2008 adventures is due to two factors: first, it takes advantage of the comic book style of its heritage without being constrained by the usual limitations of that genre and, secondly, the casting and performance of Robert Downey Jr. is a stroke of genius. Favreau had a working collaboration with composer John Debney for several years, but, unfortunately, he could not resist the temptation of ultimately using the services of one of the many clones produced by Hans Zimmer's Remote Control music factory. That clone is Ramin Djawadi, who has collaborated with Zimmer and Klaus Badelt since Pirates of the Caribbean and contributed additional music to films like Thunderbirds and Batman Begins. The director made it clear to Djawadi that he desired an atypical superhero score, one defined by rock guitars. Djawadi's background as a guitarist made that request easier, though the composer has lamented that he did not have time to perform the electric guitars himself for Iron Man. His score consists of traditional rock band elements, along with the seemingly obligatory electric cello and, remarkably, a London orchestral group. In the end, however, the orchestra's role is washed away in the mix so thoroughly that the rock band and a set of keyboards is all that was truly required for this music. Why Djawadi bothered with the orchestra at all is curious, especially when its orchestrations are extremely simplistic and its mix back at Remote Control gives it a harsh, semi-synthetic edge anyway.

If you are among the many film score fans who found Steve Jablonsky's Transformers score from the previous year to be simplistic and juvenile, then Iron Man will irritate you even more. Djawadi has mentioned that he developed the musical persona of the title character over the course of the film and would welcome work on a sequel. The merits of that statement are extremely dubious, for Iron Man is all style and no substance. Not even several examinations of the 40+ minutes of music from the score on album can reveal intelligent development of any ideas over that length. Is the theme of Tony Stark the cool progression in "Driving with the Top Down," the reluctantly heroic chords of "Vacation's Over," or something else? The score never makes that clear. What motifs it does explore in singular tracks are extremely basic, mirroring the pleasantly dumbed-down progressions that define the Remote Control playbook. Djawadi will test your patience with stripped-down minor key pounding in Iron Man, and what attempts at structural complexity he makes are blatantly inspired by Hans Zimmer's work on Batman Begins and other standards going back to the Media Ventures days. An occasional string ostinato from that aforementioned score is typically accompanied by staccato, string-oriented chord hits that are nostalgic memories from The Rock, but whatever orchestrally-inclined ideas along those lines are usually interrupted by heavier, conventional rock rhythms for slapping snare and guitar rips. The rougher of these straight rock cues, led by "Fireman" and "Arc Reactor," tend to degenerate into slapping, tiresome noise that don't offer any instrumental creativity, structural complexity, or even any redeeming harmonic consistency. There are brief moments when individual cues create a hip atmosphere enjoyable enough on their own to sustain the listening experience, but all too often a sudden shift in direction breaks the mood. Also written are some respites from the action material, but cues such as "Extra Dry, Extra Olives" don't extend the musical narrative and neglect to provide the plethora of strong supporting characters with any identity of their own.

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Perhaps some of the lack of overarching identity in Iron Man (outside of its basic instrumental style) is due to the fact that Djawadi has himself graduated to the level at which he can employ no less than five other clones to contribute additional music to his work. These stereotypical Remote Control scores are getting to the point where it really doesn't matter who leads the clones or with whom the music is recorded, for at the end of the day, the directors (and, unfortunately, audiences) who want to hear this unsophisticated music in blockbusters will continue employing anyone associated with Hans Zimmer to continue accessing that sound. The sole piece of comedy in the soundtrack for Iron Man is the inclusion of both the 1960's theme and current cover version of the classic jingle for the character; Jack Urbont's theme is so diametrically opposed to the Remote Control handbook for simplistic progressions that it's disappointing that Djawadi (or anyone in his flock) didn't take a stab at coherently interpolating it into the new work. A couple of source songs litter the soundtrack album, and of those, "Institutionalized" is so terribly irritating and stupid that it's almost fascinating to hear. Overall, Djawadi's score for Iron Man is so concerned with addressing the slick style of Tony Stark's persona that it's all muscle with no nuance. There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea of anchoring a score with electric guitars; the likes of John Debney, Dario Marianelli, and Danny Elfman have all been able to create music for heroes that merges symphonic complexity with the defiant personality of rock instruments. Iron Man serves as testimony that Djawadi, like most other Zimmer clones (and regardless of a filmmaker's wishes), is not yet ready to provide that level of intrigue. The album should only be the target of those who were aroused by the music's pounding presence in the film. It even has the one Jablonsky/Transformers-inspired cue of grade-school chord progressions and unified ensemble performance in "Vacation's Over." But, as was mentioned at the end of the Filmtracks review for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the search continues for a touch of finesse, prudence, subtly, elegance, and savoir-faire in today's blockbuster film scores. * Price Hunt: CD or Download

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 1.86 Stars
Smart Average: 2.14 Stars*
***** 38 
**** 50 
*** 89 
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  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Alternate Review at Best Original Scores
  orion_mk3 -- 3/4/15 (1:29 p.m.)
   Okay Really?
  Brendan Cochran -- 5/2/13 (8:26 p.m.)
   Awesome Soundtrack!!!
  Wellington -- 11/30/08 (7:39 p.m.)
   Alternate review of Iron Man at Movie Music...
  Jonathan Broxton -- 9/15/08 (2:18 a.m.)
   Re: Zimmer Hater?
  Jack -- 7/16/08 (5:49 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 54:03

• 1. Driving With the Top Down (3:08)
• 2. Iron Man (2008 Version) - performed by John O'Brien and Rick Boston (1:05)
• 3. Merchant of Death (2:14)
• 4. Trinkets to Kill a Prince (3:07)
• 5. Mark I (3:53)
• 6. Fireman (2:09)
• 7. Vacation's Over (3:34)
• 8. Golden Egg (4:12)
• 9. Damn Kid - performed by DJ Boborobo (1:12)
• 10. Mark II (2:47)
• 11. Extra Dry, Extra Olives (1:43)
• 12. Iron Man (3:30)
• 13. Gulmira (4:05)
• 14. Are Those Bullet Holes? (2:00)
• 15. Section 16 (2:33)
• 16. Iron Monger (4:45)
• 17. Arc Reaktor (3:55)
• 18. Institutionalized - performed by Suicidal Tendencies (3:49)
• 19. Iron Man - performed by Jack Urbont (0:20)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes extensive credits, but no extra information about the score or film. The CD itself has artwork eerily similar to that of a Sonic Images "Babylon 5" CD.

  All artwork and sound clips from Iron Man are Copyright © 2008, Lions Gate Music. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/25/08 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2008-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.