Movies & TV

The Captain Marvel Soundtrack Is a '90s Rock Dream

The film's music competently highlights the female-fronted acts challenging the decade's testosterone-heavy grunge trend.
IMAGE Marvel
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Shirley Manson told NME back in 2015 that Garbage's 1995 hit "Only Happy When it Rains" was subtly dragging grunge music, which had become the dominant genre of the '90s. “It developed into a very tongue-in-cheek poke at what we felt was a lot of miserabilism at the time,” Manson said. “There’s definitely an element of self-deprecating humor because the fact is we are all quite miserable." Her band was among a number of female-fronted acts in the '90s that began to reject the mopey masculinity of grunge music.

One of the best achievements of Marvel '90s-set blockbuster Captain Marvel is the film's ability to tap into that zeitgeist of the the decade without making it feel like frivolous nostalgia. The first title film for a female superhero in the MCU succeeds in capturing an era when acts like Garbage and TLC and No Doubt were challenging the testosterone-heavy dominant sound of the early decade.

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It's these acts that appear in pivotal scenes of Captain Marvel, like when "Just a Girl" plays over Brie Larson's big closing fight scene. Or when "Only Happy When It Rains" cues up after Carol Danvers—wearing a Nine Inch Nails shirt—steals some asshole dude's motorcycle and rides off.

For Marvel movies, the music has often served as either a supplement of the action, like the giant orchestral scores, or to inject some lighthearted fun for the parents sitting through a superhero movies, like the '80s-heavy Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.

But Captain Marvel is the first Marvel film in which the soundtrack serves more of a thematic purpose. It's also worth telling that this was the first Marvel movie to be scored by a female composer.

Salt-N-Pepa – "Whatta Man"

Elastica – "Connection"

Garbage – "Only Happy When It Rains"

R.E.M. – "Crush With Eyeliner"

TLC – "Waterfalls"

Des'ree – "You Gotta Be"

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Nirvana – "Come as You Are"

No Doubt – "Just a Girl"

R.E.M. – "Man on the Moon"

Hole – "Celebrity Skin"

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for Esquire.com
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