‘Justice League’: Danny Elfman Says He Puts a Dark Twist on John Williams’ Superman Theme

     September 28, 2017

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Not much about the production of Justice League has been “traditional” in the sense of a normal track towards release, and that extends to the score. While Zack Snyder stepped away from the film earlier this year and had Joss Whedon come in and oversee post-production and some hefty reshoots, it very much sounds like the DNA of the Justice League that was originally shot was changed. This was underlined by the fact that, once Whedon signed on, he replaced original composer Junkie XL with Danny Elfman, who also came on at the last minute to provide some additional score on Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Justice League has been kept under wraps for quite some time now, even with just over a month to go before release, but it looks like we may finally be seeing light at the end of the tunnel. In a new interview with Billboard, Elfman offered some tantalizing teases of his Justice League score, including the fact that he’s embracing iconic DC character themes from previous films:

“There are a few little fan moments. I instated a moment of the Wonder Woman theme that Hans Zimmer did for Batman v 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.”

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Image via Warner Bros.

It sounds like Elfman had to do a bit of convincing to use bits and pieces of score from non-DCEU films, but he’s got a solid reasoning:

“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. “

This is a fascinating approach, and I’m curious to see how it works within the context of the film. Elfman is a very different composer than Junkie XL, who with Hans Zimmer established the soundscape of this DCEU on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But just because Elfman’s a bit more traditional doesn’t mean he can’t get nerdy:

“It was the same as when I worked with [Whedon] on Ultron. He appreciates melodies and pieces. 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!’”

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Image via Warner Bros.

As for whether Elfman created brand new themes for new characters Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, it sounds like he wasn’t too concerned with fully fleshing out permanent themes for those characters just yet:

“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.”

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