Danny Elfman has returned to the DC comic book universe for the first time since 1992. The Justice League soundtrack has given Elfman a chance to return to his iconic Batman theme from the Tim Burton films and put his own twists to classics like John Williams’ Superman theme and Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman theme tune.
While die-hard comic book fans may instantly recognise the re-tooled themes from the past DC films and believe Elfman didn’t do much from an innovation standpoint, they have to understand his intended purpose. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, he explained that incorporating the classic themes was his way of paying homage to the DC movie franchise, and that sticking to the familiar music amplifies a fan’s enjoyment and movie experience. Elfman even cited other successful movie franchises that employed a similar strategy with great success. “They need to learn the incredible lesson that Star Wars and James Bond have known for ages, which is that keeping these musical connections alive is incredibly satisfying for the people who see those films,” he reiterates.
The soundtrack manages to effectively build up sequences that include the squad getting together and the battles. The soundtrack also includes the music that was used in the trailers. The first trailer featured The White Stripes’ crunchy guitar driven track “Icky Thump”. It was as lively, as it was explosive and set up the captivating scenes in the trailer, giving fans a good sense of the tone of the film.
The comic book industry is currently under going exciting new developments that could see film composers scoring for actual comic books rather than just for comic book films. The next stage for the comic book industry is implementing VR technology. Upload VR reports that DC Comics’ Injustice: Year One has been selected to undergo virtual reality rendition. VR reality comic books allow readers to explore a 360-degree realisation of the story complete with sound effects and music.
Alongside the innovations happening within the comic book industry there is the expansion of the genre in the digital realm. Across in the online gaming landscape, The Dark Joker Rizes on digital slot portal Slingo draws inspiration from one of DC’s most famous villains. Taking its name from the final Christopher Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, the game shows how far the superhero genre has come since Tim Burton’s Batman. Where once the genre was considered a niche part of the action genre, it is now a genre in its own right. A big part of this rise in popularity is the work that Elfman did on the original Batman film. His score went on to win a Grammy which marked a changed perception in how superheroes were treated by fans and critics. In many ways the first Batman film and Elfman score set the foundation for the superhero genre to go far beyond the screen and page.
The Justice League score may not feature iconic new music from Elfman, but it does a great job at acknowledging the past, and providing fans with a important part of the viewing experience: nostalgia.
Out of 10, I give the Justice League soundtrack 8.5 for execution, balance, and clever song choice.
Kelly Foster is a 25-year old graphic artist and comic book enthusiast who loves rock music and great movie soundtracks. His favorite movie soundtracks of all time include Interstellar and The Social Network.