Justice League composer Danny Elfman promises dark twist on classic Superman theme

Ben Bussey
·UK Movies Writer

We can look forward to hearing John Williams’ classic ‘Superman’ theme for the first time in years in the upcoming ‘Justice League’ – but not quite the way we’ve heard it before.

Danny Elfman, composer on ‘Justice League,’ has revealed that his score for the DC Extended Universe team-up movie will make use of the iconic fanfare composed by Williams for Richard Donner’s 1978 ‘Superman,’ with which the character has long been closely associated – but which was absent from ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ (The theme was last used in Bryan Singer’s 2006 ‘Superman Returns.’)

However, Elfman tells Billboard, “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.”

These remarks, naturally, are bound to get imaginations working overtime as to just how we could be left unsure whose side Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel is on – but given the film (whose marketing has conspicuously omitted Superman for the most part) will see the character resurrected after his untimely demise in ‘Batman V Superman,’ who’s to say what state the Last Son of Krypton will be in?

The seasoned 64-year old composer Elfman is of course no stranger to comic book movies, having written the score to 1989’s ‘Batman’ and its sequel ‘Batman Returns’ for his longtime collaborator Tim Burton.

And it seems his classic ‘Batman’ theme may also be alluded to in the movie, as Elfman notes that Joss Whedon (who took over on ‘Justice League’ after original director Zack Snyder stood down for personal reasons) had instructed him to “Go bats**t crazy here! Batman the s**t out of it!” in key moments featuring Ben Affleck’s Batman.

Elfman also promises “a moment of the ‘Wonder Woman’ theme that Hans Zimmer did for ‘Batman Vs. Superman,'” which was again utilised to great effect in this year’s ‘Wonder Woman.’

Beyond this, the composer says he wrote “very simple motifs” rather than full-blown theme tunes for other ‘Justice League’ members The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg.

Elfman is a relatively late addition to the ‘Justice League’ crew, replacing original composer Junkie XL. His other comic book movie scores include ‘Dick Tracy,’ the ‘Men in Black’ trilogy, Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Spider-Man 2,’ Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk,’ ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army,’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’

‘Justice League’ opens in UK cinemas on 17 November.

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