Hans Zimmer Talks Scoring MAN OF STEEL and Following in John Williams’ Footsteps

     April 5, 2013


Warner Bros. is taking another stab at Superman with this summer’s Man of Steel, and on top of the pressure of delivering an entertaining and successful take on Supes in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the film also follows in the footsteps of Richard Donner’s iconic take on the character.  Fans are crossing their fingers that director Zack Snyder has done Superman justice, but composer Hans Zimmer also has some big shoes to fill with regards to the pic’s score.  John Williams’ classic theme from Superman is synonymous with the character, and so Zimmer tackles the challenge of crafting something entirely different for this new iteration of Superman.

Zimmer recently talked a bit about his approach to the score and following in Williams’ footsteps, revealing that he enlisted some rather famous drummers to help out in the recording process and talking about approaching the score with an eye towards Superman’s desire to be human.  Hit the jump to read on.

hans-zimmer-man-of-steelDuring an interview with CNN, Zimmer addressed the elephant in the room by talking about how intimidating it was to follow John Williams:

“Look, that was daunting. Seriously. He’s the greatest film composer out there, without a doubt, and it happens to be one of his iconic pieces of music, so I spent three months just procrastinating and not even getting a start on the thing, because I was so intimidated: ‘Oh my God, I’m following in John Williams’ footsteps.'”

When he finally did come around to tackling his Man of Steel score, Zimmer decided to take a unique approach to the Superman story:

“I kept thinking of the story as, What if you are extraordinary, and your entire ambition is to join humanity? To become human? What does it mean to become human? What does it mean to be an outsider who really wants to join the human race?”

man-of-steel-henry-cavillZimmer continued by talking about how big of an influence the American Midwest was on his score:

“Everything’s tinged with irony and sarcasm and bitterness and darkness these days,” he said. But this Superman is something lighter, he said, “celebrating everything that was good and fine about America,” such as small towns “where people don’t lock their doors, neighbors get together, and families are families.

What was important for Superman was the simple fact that none of us pay much attention to the Midwest,” Zimmer said. “I know America mainly by the big cities, but if you go into the Midwest, there is a people there and there is a country there. And I thought it was important that the decent folk, simple folk be the heart of the story, and a character who is guileless, who isn’t complicated in the sort of flawed way our Dark Knight is, and isn’t political in any way. He’s just striving to become a better part of humanity.”

man-of-steel-posterThough Zimmer’s Batman collaborator Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel, his relationship with Nolan on the Superman film was less involved:

As a producer on Man of Steel, Nolan, who also collaborated on the story, initially acted as a sounding board for some of Zimmer’s ideas (“getting rid of my demons,” as he put it) but soon stepped aside so he wouldn’t be “a mistress in the mix” between Zimmer and director Zack Snyder, especially since Zimmer’s involvement in the whole project stemmed from a misunderstanding in the first place.

Zimmer also elaborated on his technical approach to Man of Steel, talking about how he enlisted some help with the recording process:

Sonically, this treatment of America comes across via a grouping of pedal steel guitars (instead of the usual string section), banging titanium and steel sculptures, and organizing “a who’s who of drummers” in a 12-member drum circle, including Jason Bonham, Sheila E. and Pharrell Williams. “The great thing about Superman is that everybody loves Superman,” Zimmer said with a laugh. “It’s very easy making the call and saying, ‘Hey, can you come?’ I remember phoning Pharrell and him saying, ‘I’m right in the middle of producing the Beyonce album in Miami.’ ‘Jason Bonham’s in Miami, and he’s getting on a plane!’ Next morning, there’s Pharrell, looking a little bleary-eyed.”

Hopefully we hear some of the score soon.  Zimmer is undoubtedly a master composer of our day, and I’m incredibly excited to see what he’s crafted for one of the biggest films of the year.  Head over to CNN to read the full interview.  Man of Steel opens in 2D and 3D on June 14th.

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