Film composer Danny Elfman, who famously created the now iconic Batman theme music for his longtime collaborator Tim Burton’s 1989 film, says he had nothing but fun returning to the DC Universe to compose the score for Justice League.
“What wasn’t fun about it?” Elfman exclaimed while talking with CBR at the Hollywood premiere of the Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon directed film. “It was just all fun.”
After nearly two decades as the frontman of the new wave band Oingo Boingo, Elfman underwent a career shift and segued into scoring films, beginning with Burton’s debut feature Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. This, in turn, led to his acclaimed stints on Batman and Batman Returns, where he would create an indelible signature theme for the Dark Knight that would later be used as the title music for Batman: The Animated Series.
Elfman would continue to work on the bulk of Burton’s subsequent films and dozens of other movies and TV shows (including crafting The Simpsons theme music), as well as going on to score more comic book-derived fare, including Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, three Men In Black films for Barry Sonnenfeld, Ang Lee’s Hulk, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron for Whedon.
Upon his return to putting characters from the DC Universe again for the first time in 25 years, Elfman told CBR he was initially challenged by the notion of finding specific themes to accompany each of the six superheroes comprising the League, as well as a score that would unify them as a whole.
“I tried, at first, to really get something to define every character, just enough that I could pull it off, but then to write these overriding themes that is more about the Justice League than the individual,” Elfman said. “It sounds very complicated, and it was like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but it really came together, surprisingly easier than expected.”
He decided he didn’t need to look any further than his original theme for Batman, given that it had stood the test of time and was adaptable to the musical style established in Snyder’s films. “It was easy to do because it never quite went away, actually,” he said. “The same harmonic structure was still there, so it wasn’t even like going far from where it was.” He also got to slip in a darker twist on composer John Williams’ beloved Superman theme from the films of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Now that he’s got his feet firmly re-set in the DCU and several of the team members are expected to headline their own solo films, which of the Leaguers would he most like to flesh out his musical notions for even further?
“Any of them,” Elfman said. “They’re all great!”
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