Captain Marvel: Composer Pinar Toprak on Scoring The Soundtrack

Captain Marvel is certainly soaring high after two weekends at the box office.

The film has made over $760 million worldwide as a standalone female superhero film in the modern MCU universe.

The project made multiple strides not only cast Brie Larson in the major protagonist role. It also featured a female director Anna Boden (Half Nelson) with her husband Ryan Fleck at the helm. Not to mention several women who got credited for writing the script with Boden, including Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Pokemon Detective Pikachu), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur) and Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Tomb Raider).

It would be fitting to have a woman score the soundtrack for Captain Marvel.

Composer Pinar Toprak has been mentioned in the press as the first female Marvel composer. She has been composing for several years and worked for Hans Zimmer before. She currently is composing SyFy’s Krypton and composed the music to the popular video game Fortnite.

LRM had an exclusive interview over the phone last week with the rising composer.

Captain Marvel is currently playing in theaters worldwide. The soundtrack is also available on iTunes and GooglePlay.

Read our interview below.

LRM: Excellent. How did you get involved in such a grand project like Captain Marvel in the first place?

Pinar Toprak: I had an opportunity to audition. I took that opportunity very seriously. I hired a seventy-piece orchestra, because I wanted them to see me in front of a large orchestra conducting. I also did another video in my studio, where I just talked to the camera. I talked about what Captain Marvel character means to me and the music that was recorded. I played in the version of it on a piano. I just want them to get a sense of who I am, because opportunities like this–it’s difficult to be in a room with everybody. These videos can go a long way. I just wanted to put my best foot forward. I’m really grateful that it was recognized.

LRM: You mentioned this. What does Captain Marvel means to you?

Pinar Toprak: There’s so many things about her character. Mainly, there are two elements. One is how she comes to her and how she uses a fish out of water for a while. That’s how I was when I was here at 17 and not really knowing English. I tried to figure out who I was in that light, because most of my life people were telling me what I can and what I cannot do. Being able to kind of discover who I am.

There is a sequence in the film that really touched me when she keeps getting up from all the falls. With that sequence, we keep seeing her getting up each time stronger and stronger. That really resonated with me. I definitely had my own failures. We all do. Just learning to get up stronger each time. It really, really touched me. She’s not only an incredibly powerful being, but her powers ans strengths come from her humanity. There’s so much heart and soul in her character that I knew immediately it would be a part of.

LRM: Knowing all this, what kind of approach did you want to compose the music for Captain Marvel?

Pinar Toprak: Knowing that she’s a hybrid, I wanted the music to high be hybrid as well. I wanted to balance between the electronic elements with the organic orchestral elements. I wanted her scenes to capture that strength mixed with vulnerability. That’s well,

LRM: As a Marvel movie, itself, how was working on a such a grand scale? It was like they’ve given you nearly an unlimited budget to develop something for this movie.

Pinar Toprak: Everything has a limit. We did have great resources. I had a 90-piece orchestra to work with, which was incredible. In terms of creativity, which is very important, they gave me freedom to explore different ideas and different tones. That’s probably the most rewarding part of the process to be able to have that canvas.

LRM: What length of a period did they give you to work on this project?

Pinar Toprak: Five and a half months or so.

LRM: That’s quite impressive. Which was the most difficult piece in the Captain Marvel soundtrack in your opinion?

Pinar Toprak: It’s not difficult per se. Once you dived into a scene, I don’t think of it as difficult. I think to say on what helped unravel everything was coming out with Captain Marvel’s theme. Once I found that, I felt more confident with the rest of the score.

LRM: For yourself, could you tell me about your background? You always had a musical background?

Pinar Toprak: I did. I started conservatory in Istanbul at a very young age. I was a violinist first. Then I got my degree in classical guitar. And um, bachelor’s in film scoring and master’s in classical composition. As far as education goes, this is all I’ve done in my life. This is all I wanted to do really. I’ve been very lucky.

LRM: Why did you venture here into America for your music?

Pinar Toprak: I’ve been in love with big Hollywood films. I figured if you wanted to be involved in that–you better be in Hollywood. I kind of made my way first with a proper education. I went to the Berklee College of Music for film scoring. Then in the year 2000, I moved to Los Angeles. While I was getting my master’s degree, I actually got an internship at Paramount Pictures in the music department. That was my first job. I worked my way up. I got opportunity work with Hans Zimmer and then I got my own projects afterwards. It’s just been long, long, lifelong dream to do this. Very blessed.

LRM: How would you describe your style of music? How do you want to distinguish yourself from other composers out there? This is a tough business.

Pinar Toprak: It is. It’s an interesting question, because people hear my style. But, I don’t hear it. It’s funny, I don’t think that I’m going to write something that sounds like me. I don’t know what I sound like. When my soundtrack gets reviewed and friends would say, “Oh, this sounds just like.” I’m not sure what that is. People can hear. That’s good. [Laughs]

LRM: Since now you have a comic book movie under your belt, what other types of movies you would love to score?

Pinar Toprak: Honestly, the beautiful thing about what I do is the variety. Anytime I can be a part of great storytelling, it doesn’t really matter the genre or the size of the project. For me, if I wake up in the morning and I can make a living with my dream on just writing music and scores is the icing on the cake.

LRM: Who are some of your favorite composers out there and with what scores?

Pinar Toprak: That’s a long list. It’s different depending on the day you ask me. Some names that never change would be Enio Morricone, John Barry, and as obviously, I’m a big fan of Hans Zimmer, John Powell….the list keeps going. All of the scores that are very special to me. I loved Enio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso. I loved that score so much. There’s a lot of John William scores. Superman was my first love. It will always have a special place in my heart. There’s a long list of inspiration. Not in terms of film scores, but I try to listen to anything and everything in different styles. I try to educate my ear as much as possible.

LRM: Excellent. Can you talk about some of your future projects that you may actually have after Captain Marvel?

Pinar Toprak: I can tell you what I’m doing now. I can’t speak to the future, because I’m not allowed to. [Chuckles] I also score a TV show called Krypton about Superman’s home planet. We are working on the second season on that right now.

LRM: One last question for you, you’re being touted as a Marvel’s first woman composer for publicity. How do you feel about that you’re actually open doors for future women?

Pinar Toprak: That’s the exciting part. On the personal level, I’m not in love with the phrasing of female composer, because male composers are not called male composers. I just wanted to relay this piece of information. [Laughs] What is necessary, hopefully, that this creates more opportunities. There’s never been a lack of talent. There’s been the lack of opportunities. And I hope that this will open up more doors.

LRM: Excellent answer. Hey, thank you very much for this conversation. I know you have a very busy day, but thank you for talking with me. I listened to your soundtrack multiple times.

Pinar Toprak: Thank you.

Captain Marvel is currently playing in theaters worldwide. The soundtrack is also available on iTunes and GooglePlay.

Source: LRM Exclusive

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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