Danny Elfman the mastermind behind many great classic themes for many Tim Burton films as well as several comic book based properties, spoke will Billboard on scoring Justice League and returning to the DC Universe.
During his interview he mentions that he was given permission to use the classic John Williams score for Superman: The Movie, but will used it in a very dark way for a dark moment. This suggest one of two things will happen in the film, either Bizarro is in the film or a brainwashed or mind controlled Superman returns. Either way, it certainly sounds like the mature nature of the DC Extended Universe will still be intact and not become more light-hearted than many feared.
RETURNING TO THE DC UNIVERSE AFTER SO MANY YEARS
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 [Laughs.] It just was great fun.
USING THE CLASSIC JOHN WILLIAMS SCORE FOR SUPERMAN & HANS ZIMMER’S WONDER WOMAN SCORE
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.
CREATING CAHARACTER MOTIF THEMES FOR THE FLASH & AQUAMAN
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.
I loved the people I worked with, they were wonderful. The DC guys were great. 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.
ON THE PEOPLE AT DC AND THEIR APPROACH TO THE CHARACTERS AND THEMES
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.
Danny Elfman is receiving the Max Steiner Film Achievement Award for his career in composing many great scores. Aside from working on many Tim Burton films, Elfman has created the scores for the comic book properties Batman, Batman Returns, Batman: The Animated Series (Main theme only), Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Men in Black Trilogy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron (with Brian Tyler).
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