Danny Elfman on what studios can learn from Star Wars and James Bond scores

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Nov 20, 2017

Composer Danny Elfman loves a good musical theme—and not just because he’s created several iconic ones in such films as Batman, Men in Black, Spider-Man, and others. He thinks they’re important to franchises.

Elfman told Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision, "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 b*****t idea. It’s only for the ego of the director or the composer. 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."

It's hard to argue with his point. There’s nothing like a stirring anthem to get the heart pounding. Elfman had hinted at his Batman theme, created for the 1989 film Batman, at various points in the Justice League soundtrack. But at one moment, Elfman said, “[Director] Joss [Whedon] said, ‘Let’s do it [Batman’s theme] on the nose. Fans love this kind of stuff.’"

Elfman had an easier time of writing the soundtrack to Justice League than he did with his prior Whedon project, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was brought in to tidy up a soundtrack started by Brian Tyler.

"With Avengers, it was trickier because I was working around half a score. So, I had to rescore either half or two-thirds of the film, and that made for a squirrelly process. On Justice League, it was a blank slate. I only had to work around a Leonard Cohen song,” Elfman said.

But that doesn’t mean Elfman's task was easy. As fans know, when director Zack Snyder stepped away from Justice League this May, Whedon scrapped the Junkie XL-written soundtrack…and gave Elfman zero time to consider taking the composing job.

Elfman said, "I got the call from Joss very last-second. I got the call and it was, ‘You have to decide now and then go to work tomorrow." And at times, Elfman said, he didn’t compose his music to actual footage. He had to base some of his work off of storyboards.

“Honestly, it was like working on an animated film,” Elfman said.

You can hear the soundtrack here. And yes, when it comes to the emotional resonance of familiar themes, we agree that it absolutely hit some high notes. 

(Via THR)