The following post contains massive spoilers about Avengers: Endgame
No one would confuse the weighty fallout of Thanos wiping out half of the universe with a snap of his finger in Avengers: Infinity War with the jukebox comedy of Guardians of the Galaxy, but for those seeing Avengers: Endgame, an early needle drop of '60s rock might cause a bit of confusion.
Following a dark, traumatic opening prologue — which shows the moment Thanos' snapped wiped out Hawkeye's (Jeremy Renner) entire family, including his young children — the Marvel Studios logo unfurls as Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" plays on the soundtrack. It's an unexpected moment, at once anachronistic and in keeping with the ethos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has often used pop songs to track action — especially in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which feature curated soundtracks from director James Gunn. Guardians, of course, plays a small part in the opening too: After the Hawkeye sequence, the action shifts to space, where a stranded Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is passing the time with Guardians figure Nebula (Karen Gillan) aboard the Benatar, Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) ship and home to his killer collection of tunes (all helpfully downloaded to a Zune).
It's a great moment — and that's before factoring in the song's lyrics, which seem to pay a bit of tribute to Stark himself and the arc he's about to embark on in the film:
Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything, take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don't be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn't have known you all these years
It's a reach, but if Stark is the "Mr. Fantasy" of the song's title, he's largely responsible for playing the tune that takes the world out of Thanos' gloom: Tony figures out the mechanics of time travel, helping the Avengers retrieve the Infinity Stones from the past and bring the fallen of the universe back to life. Tony also winds up defeating Thanos, a decision that costs the superhero his life. The sacrifice adds deeper meaning to this lyric: "You are the one who can make us all laugh, but doing that you break out in tears."
"Dear Mr. Fantasy" isn't the only song to feature in Avengers: Endgame. Other tracks include the Steppenwolf song "Hey Lawdy Mama" (which plays during Stan Lee's cameo), the Rolling Stones tune "Doom and Gloom," and "It's Been a Long, Long Time" by Harry James and His Orchestra featuring Kitty Kallen on vocals.
Starring Downey, Gillan, Renner, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Chris Hemsworth, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Racoon, Avengers: Endgame is out now.