Danny Elfman putting a dark twist on John Williams' Superman theme

Superman Henry Cavill Justice League

John Williams has crafted some of cinema's most memorable musical scores, including the score for Richard Donner's SUPERMAN in which the main theme has become instantly recognizable. Warner Bros.' DCEU hasn't made much use of Williams' iconic Superman theme, but that's due to change with the arrival of JUSTICE LEAGUE. After Zack Snyder departed the film due a family tragedy, Joss Whedon was brought in to take over production and one of the changes made soon thereafter was the replacement of Junkie XL (DEADPOOL) with Danny Elfman (BATMAN). While speaking with Billboard, Elfman commented on scoring JUSTICE LEAGUE as well as making use of DC character themes from previous films, including a dark twist on John Williams' Superman theme.

There are a few little fan moments. I instated a moment of the Wonder Woman theme that Hans Zimmer did for Batman Vs. Superman, but I also had two minutes where I had the pleasure of saying, “Let’s do John Williams’ Superman.” and that for me was heaven, because now I have a melody to twist, and I’m using it in an actually very dark way, in a dark moment. It’s the kind of thing that some fans will notice. Some won’t. It’s a moment where we’re really not sure whose side he’s on.

The people at DC are starting to understand we’ve got these iconic bits from our past and that’s part of us, that’s part of our heritage -- we shouldn’t run away from that. Contemporary thinking is, every time they reboot something, you have to start completely from scratch -- which, of course, audiences will tell us again and again, is bullshit. Because the single-most surviving and loved theme in the world is Star Wars, which they had the good sense to not dump for the reboots. And every time it comes back, the audience goes crazy.

With so many heroes stuffed into JUSTICE LEAGUE, including Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), it'd be tough to create a big theme for everyone, and Elfman didn't seem overly concerned about putting down permanent themes for Flash, Aquaman, or Cyborg, but, the pieces are there, should Warner Bros. choose to build on them in future films.

I created very simple motifs. There are so many themes, you can’t just do a big theme for everything. So I created a motif for Flash, for Aquaman and Cyborg -- but they’re very simple things, and [DC] understood. I said, "These things may never be used again, but I’m giving you all the components, should you wish to have things to build on." So they either will or they won’t, but that’s how I approach a project like this. You have to take the attitude that this is the beginning of a mythology and it all matters, it all comes to fruition, and with any luck they will.

Danny Elfman previously worked with Joss Whedon on AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, and Elfman seems to enjoy their relationship quite a bit. "He appreciates melodies and pieces," Elfman said. "He’s like, 'Oh, you’ve given it identity here!' There was a moment where the Batmobile shoots out of a thing and he goes, 'Go batshit crazy here! Batman the shit out of it!' When I’m using the Batman theme, I’m using the melodic sense of it, I’m wasn’t doing full-on Batman, and there’s a moment when he says, 'No, right here, Full on!'"JUSTICE LEAGUE will hit theaters on November 17, 2017.

Source: Billboard



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