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This Marvel Game Soundtrack Has an Epic Origin Story

Richard Jacques says he had to pinch himself when he got the call to score Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game. Not least because way back in 2005, at a video game concert in Los Angeles, Jacques ended up meeting the man responsible for creating the characters and stories that have made such a lasting impression on him: Stan Lee . And in typical superhero style, it was there that Jacques made a wish that would become reality 12 years later.“I was introduced through a mutual friend and only had a brief chat with him, but [Lee] was explaining how music is a really important part of his stories,” Jacques tells WIRED with a massive smile on his face from his studio in the UK. Marvel encyclopedias, comics, and figurines make up just as much of the furniture here as the massive mixing desk, old-school synths, and score sheets from previous projects.“I jokingly said to him, ‘One day, I’m going to do a Marvel soundtrack!’ So when I got the call back in 2017 and signed the NDA, as soon as I found out what the project was I was just blown away. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of, but straight away I knew I’d be the right fit for the project.”The BAFTA-nominated video game composer lives and breathes comic books. If he ever found himself onboard Star-Lord’s ship, he’d be able to take the wheel and navigate the multiverse with his eyes closed. When it came to the pitching process for scoring Guardians, the game’s senior audio director, Steve Szczepkowski, says he didn’t need to any help seeing Jacques’ merits.“Just his presentation alone was enough,” Szczepkowski laughs over a video call. “[Richard] came in with this Guardians cassette side A and side B folder, so even though I hadn’t listened to anything yet, I’m already thinking this guy knows his stuff. These things don’t get unnoticed, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”Jacques felt right at home with the rest of the team working on Guardians. The passion for the Marvel universe from the creative team shines through the game, but it’s the careful attention to detail that die-hard Marvel fans will appreciate most. The game is littered with Easter eggs, from the Dazzler poster in Star-Lord’s bedroom to Lady Hellbender’s treasured Ghilaron skull and the various rarities in the Collector’s emporium (poor Throg!). Szcepkowski wanted to ensure this same level of care and attention to detail was reflected in the game’s music.He also wanted to break away from the conventions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which the Guardians films are set. In the films, Quill’s mom gives him the nickname Star-Lord in homage to his dad, a celestial—but what if Quill took his name from a fictitious metal band instead? And what if, instead of Star-Lord blasting out some of the biggest tunes from the ’70s on his treasured Sony Walkman, his epic mixtape was crammed full of ’80s bangers?“We all knew we wanted to carve our own identity, and it was one of the things that Marvel encouraged—[they] were always saying to us ‘We want you to make this your own,’” Szczepkowski tells WIRED. “That became very exciting, and it opened up a whole new sandbox that wasn’t in the movies, which was great.”