When you take over a famous franchise, like, oh, say, a line of superhero movies, the first thing you likely want to do is put your own stamp on things. It can be tempting to wipe away all the ideas, motifs, and images used by the old creators, in favour of seeking out the new, the fresh, the exciting.
But there is one man who says, no, no more. We cannot abandon the old ways. This, as the prophet says, is vanity.
That man is Grammy winner and Academy Award nominated composer, Danny Elfman. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, he has some sharp words for studios and creators who abandon old superhero themes.
Elfman, who was recently called in by Joss Whedon to score Justice League after Snyder and his composer of choice, Junkie XL, left the project, said, “The whole concept that every time a superhero franchise is rebooted with a new director, then you have to start the music from scratch is a bullshit idea. It’s only for the ego of the director or the composer.”
He went on to say that these creators “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 these films.”
Elfman, of course, is well known for writing a few of these classic themes: He wrote the music for the first Batman in 1989, and the opening theme for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films in the aughts. He also wrote music for Avengers: Age of Ultron, also at Whedon’s behest.
Like that project, Elfman also told The Hollywood Reporter that his work was a fairly last-minute job. “I got the call from Joss very last second,” he said. “I got the call and it was, ‘You have to decide now and then to go to work tomorrow.'” He was apparently scoring the film as it was being cut together, composing to actual footage.
Naturally, he sampled John Williams’ Superman themes and hints of his own Batman theme. As the gods intended.