Justice League composer Danny Elfman reveals he put a new spin on John Williams’ classic Superman theme for a “dark moment” involving the Last Son of Krypton in the DCEU team-up film. Long before shared cinematic universes were a fleeting thought in anyone’s mind, director Richard Donner proved to the world a man could fly with the original Superman film that was released in 1978. Starring Christopher Reeve as the hero, the movie was one of the defining blockbusters of its era, and its influence is still felt today (see: Wonder Woman). One of its most memorable aspects was the score by the legendary composer Williams, and the main theme song has become synonymous with the character.
Since the DCEU is a completely different franchise from those earlier Superman movies, the decision was made to not use Williams’ iconic piece so Man of Steel and its successors could follow their own path. Still, that hasn’t stopped fans from wanting to hear the tune in theaters once more. As it turns out, they’ll get that chance when Justice League hits the big screen this fall – albeit with a twist some may not have been expecting.
In an interview with Billboard, Elfman discussed his return to the realm of DC films (he previously composed the score for Tim Burton’s Batman) and shared an interesting nugget about Superman’s mysterious role in Justice League, hinting that his allegiances may be in a different place as he returns from the dead:
“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.”
Elfman’s use of the word “dark” may draw the ire of some moviegoers, as a popular belief about the DCEU is that it’s too grim for its own good. Still, it should be interesting to see this scene play out. Superman’s role in Justice League has been kept under wraps throughout the entire marketing campaign, meaning the filmmakers probably have some surprises up their sleeves. It would certainly be a shock for audiences to watch Kal-El return from the dead and not know where his allegiances lie. This could be a truly fascinating way to subvert expectations when Superman first returns in the film. Many thought he’d just be the hero we know and love, but apparently something more sinister is in store. As for what that’ll be, it’s another mystery for fans to try to solve. One possibility is Clark Kent not possessing his old memories and perceiving his allies as foes when they first encounter.
From the sound of things, any ambiguity involving Superman should be cleared up shortly. After all, Warner Bros. is holding meetings with directors for Man of Steel 2, so Clark Kent will probably be fighting for the good guys come Justice League‘s end. Plus, Elfman convinced his producers to hire a full orchestra for a key emotional sequence, which likely involves Superman doing something heroic in a climactic battle to turn the tide in the League’s favor. And even if it’s not in its original form, it’ll still be fun for longtime fans to hear a rendition of Williams’ theme after all these years. Perhaps it will make a proper return to the films later on.
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