It’s fair to say Danny Elfman is one of the best and recognizable composers out there, creating some very memorable themes for films he’s worked on. Two of his most famous pieces is his seminal theme for Tim Burton’s Batman as well as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man theme. When he joined Justice League in the wake of Joss Whedon’s hiring, the move was met with enthusiasm by many fans.
One of the big questions about Elfman’s work on Justice League would be whether or not he’d use the existing music and themes from Han Zimmer and Junkie XL, heard in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In an interview with Billboard, Elfman revealed he is using some their work, but also said he’s used John Williams’ classic and epic theme for Superman in a scene in the film, as well as some of his own previous material (possible spoiler in the comment below for how Williams’ theme will be used).
“It was great. It was like I never left because I’m using the same thematic material that I used back then. It never actually went away,” Elfman told Billboard. “It just was great fun. 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.”
“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.”
Of course, there are three new characters in this film who haven’t had their own theme yet. Asked about creating themes for The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, Elfman said “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.”
Expanding on his idea for incorporating Williams’ Superman theme into Justice League, Elfman likened the musical pieces to DNA, saying “I kept talking about the DNA of John Williams in this other theme — using the DNA of Batman in these other variations, which were not the Batman theme — but it all derives from that… Musical themes are like genes, you carry the DNA along and it creates these subtle connections which are perceived on an unconscious level. It’s funny because I’m terrible at puzzles, but I love musical puzzles. It’s a different part of my brain.”
This is also not the first time Elfman has worked with Whedon. The composer took over the music from Brian Tyler on Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. On re-teaming with Whedon, Elfman was very complimentary to the director: “It was the same as when I worked with him 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!’ I think they’re great and he loves doing little things like that that are pure fan excitement: ‘Do John Williams here, Batman the shit out of this moment.’ He knows how fans think. Give them these little things and let them enjoy it.”
Are you excited to hear Elfman use John Williams in Justice League? Let us know below…
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League will reunite Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta and Robin Wright as General Antiope alongside J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Commissioner Gordon, Amber Heard (The Danish Girl) as Mera, Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) as Vulko, Kiersey Clemons (Dope) as Iris West, Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones) as Steppenwolf, and Julian Lewis Jones (Stella) and Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones) in as-yet-unrevealed roles.