Traffic was a blue-eyed soul quartet fronted by Steve Winwood, whose most popular work of that era was recorded with the Spencer Davis Group and Blind Faith. But until he broke the band up for good in 1974, he thrived creatively with Traffic, especially on their debut album “Mr. Fantasy.”
The title track of that LP is a bluesy, quasi-psychedelic song that you would never tab as the opening track for a superhero melee that wound up being (currently) the second-highest grossing movie worldwide. But directors Joe and Anthony Russo, keen to ease viewers into a film where half of humanity had been exterminated, heard the precise vibe they were looking to convey.
On the audio commentary for “Avengers: Endgame,” the Russos, in conversation with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, discussed why they jettisoned the orchestral Marvel Studios fanfare in favor of Traffic.
Joe Russo: Now, this song [Steve Winwood’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy”] was resonant for a lot of reasons. We felt like it was correct tonally, but we also thought that the lyrics were appropriate for Marvel, and what it’s done, and the expectations from giant pop culture films.
Anthony Russo: This being the climactic movie of the 22-movie run, it was nice to comment on our experience of these movies.
Stephen McFeely: Did you have thought about needle drops in this as opposed to score? I don’t think in “Infinity War,” other than maybe a Guardians beat, that there are needle drops.
Anthony Russo: We did like the fact that it made things feel different, especially at that point in the movie. You know, it was an unusual choice. And the way that stood in contrast to “Infinity War.” It was important again, because we’re trying to let people know right away that this is a different story.