Last time I watched Iron Man 3 I noticed how Brian Tyler’s score uses “Dies irae” for the bad guy’s theme. That piece of music, part of an ancient chant, is often associated with death. There’s a nice mention of it in this video about Michael Giacchino’s Rogue One’s score. Once you learn it, you start to hear it everywhere. Early in Iron Man 3 it plays right before a bomb goes off outside a movie theater. Since it’s become a bit of a cliché, the scene comes off a bit clumsy. “Oh, Dies irae is playing. Someone must be about the die!” It’s somewhat over-done.
Rewatching the movie today, I made another connection that somewhat redeems it: Iron Man 3 is set at Christmas. Danny Elfman uses Dies irae in A Nightmare Before Christmas as the melody for “Welcome Christmas.” There, it totally works. You have a theme that classically represents death for a character, Jack Skellington, who also represents death. Clever. So while I still think Tyler’s use of Dies irae in Iron Man 3 is clumsy, I give him credit for the reference.