Monday, February 10, 2014

Hans Zimmer's Batman Problem

Let's get this one out of the way first.

Batman is such an iconic and often re-interpreted character that this fantastic tune actually has competition for being the best Batman theme. In my mind, that is. I know Batman fans are a touchy lot, so I'ma go ahead and add that caveat. Here's its primary competitor:

When Tim Burton left the franchise and was replaced by Joel Schumacher, composer Danny Elfman was replaced by Elliot Goldenthal. Goldenthal's Batman theme isn't as ubiquitous in pop culture as the previous two, but I like it nonetheless. The music definitely did not take as steep a plunge in quality as the overall movies did with the Burton-Schumacher transition.

It's grand and operatic, pretty much in Elfman's style, but different enough to say Goldenthal put his own stamp on things. This is appropriate given that the Kilmer and Clooney Batmen were supposed to be the same guy as Michael Keaton (this was in the days before there was such a thing as Cinematic Universes). Unfortunately, when Schumacher's second outing, 1998's BATMAN AND ROBIN, was not very well received (to put it politely), Warner Bros. put Batman in deep freeze (ha ha) until 2005's reboot BATMAN BEGINS. They had to wash the stink of the previous Bat right out of their hair, and so they tried to make the movie as different from the previous ones as possible. Hans Zimmer, creator of What Blockbusters Sound Like since at least CRIMSON TIDE, brought a little of that GLADIATOR/THE ROCK-esque Zimmer flair to Batman.

BEGINS and its sequels (THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy) were massive successes, so this is what Batman pretty much sounds like to a generation of kids. This is fine and dandy.

Warner Bros. had another problem -- Superman. They'd tried to bring him back in 2006, a year after BEGINS, but unlike the stylistic break that movie signified from the last Batman, a new POV would be wholly absent from the Richard Donner-beholden SUPERMAN RETURNS. After RETURNS' failure to capture the public imagination, WB decided to Superman it up again with 2013's MAN OF STEEL, no doubt in some hurry to get a big comic book movie out there, spurred on by Christopher Nolan's decision that 2012's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES would be his last Bat-movie and the massive success of the interconnected Marvel movies.

David Goyer - David Goyer
Hans Zimmer - Hans Zimmer

Yup, it was quite clear that WB wanted a Superman movie that "felt" enough like a DARK KNIGHT movie that it would catch on, down to the absolutely unfounded decision to make the MAN OF STEEL title pop up only at the end of the movie.

With MAN OF STEEL making enough money for WB to greenlight a sequel that would serve as a springboard to a bigger shared (Marvel-like) universe, there are a lot of nerd eyes on director Zack Snyder and his team wondering what sort of Batman they'll come up with. You see, the MAN OF STEEL sequel will be a "Batman vs. Superman" movie with a whole new, non-DK Batman.

So here we have composer Hans Zimmer in the rather unique position of having reinvented the cinematic sound of Batman in 2005, being asked to reinvent Superman's sound in 2013 in a movie that tries its darnedest to ape nu-Batman... now being asked to reinvent Batman's sound AGAIN... in the same universe of "his" DARK KNIGHT-like Superman... that (one can only assume) sounds different enough from  Zimmer's 2005 Batman sound to stand out as its own, non-DARK KNIGHT Batman.




just do this again hans nobody gives a shit at this point


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