If you left Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 unexpectedly moved by the finale, you can thank composer Tyler Bates, whose symphonic and choral work was perhaps his most accomplished yet in films. Bates, a former rock guitarist who still goes out on the road with Marilyn Manson from time to time, has not only built an entirely new career composing for films and television, he has built a very loyal clientele. As director David Leitch (the soon-in-theaters Atomic Blonde) told me for this latest Billion Dollar Composer section in Variety: “I don’t want to do a movie without Tyler Bates.” And as Guardians director James Gunn put it in a second story: Bates is “the most undervalued part of both Guardians films. They aren’t the Guardians of the Galaxy without Tyler Bates.”
Today’s event was among the most enjoyable in ages. Disney asked if I would moderate a panel of its composers for comic-book and mythical-universe films and TV shows, and I was delighted — especially when I heard who the panelists would be: Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy), John Debney (Iron Man 2), Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Brian Tyler (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron). This was at WonderCon in downtown L.A., and the fun stories included George Lucas’ involvement with the animated series, Marvel vs. DC Comics adaptations, Marvel’s penchant for secrecy, the role of orchestra and strong themes, and much more. Wish we’d recorded it for posterity!