With the release of this summer's biggest blockbuster movie, Man Of Steel, a look back through the music that has propelled Superman through the air since the 70s seems to be in order. While movie critics may be bashing the actual story and production of the latest hero movie, Hans Zimmer's brilliant work should certainly not go down with the ship.
Back in 1978, a man by the name of John Williams (AKA Steven Spielberg's ears) created the score for the original Superman: The Movie. The legendary composer's score of the film is as heroic sounding as the embodiment of Superman himself. A quiet and gradual intro that is soon after greeted with an ensemble of uplifting horns, strings, and symbols. Williams is perhaps the best in his field at creating a cinematic experience through pure sound. That is to say, if you were blind and listened to "Main Theme" from Superman, you'd feel like you were valiantly soaring through the skies of Metropolis Christopher Reeve-style. Williams' style is very big-budget Hollywood sounding, but that's just because he pretty much invented the sound. And besides, it sure as hell works. (see Jaws, E.T., or Indiana Jones if you're a non-believer)
Hans Zimmer, who entered the superhero realm upon his scoring of the entire Dark Knight Trilogy, took the reigns in the latest Superman installment, Man Of Steel. Unlike John Williams, Zimmer creates a much darker, suspenseful sound with his scoring. As you may have observed in The Dark Knight series (unless you've been living under a rock), the films have a dark and far more realistic take when compared to other superhero films of its kind. Zimmer uses a similar approach in this Superman reboot, which, like The Dark Knight films, is a product of director/producer Christopher Nolan and his initial reimaging of Batman's Gotham. The score for Man Of Steel features pounding drums in the background accompanied with inspiring horns and very quick, fast-paced violins (not quite as "Hollywood-sounding" as Williams). Something about Zimmer's scoring seems to mesh perfectly with the real-world reimaging that DC is going for; making Superman a more human and relatable character. For the more thought-provoking, contemplative, and emotional Superman scenes, Zimmer created pieces such as "Sent Here For A Reason", which is as beautiful as it is inspirational. Here is a clip of the piece "An Ideal Of Hope", which combines both Zimmer's quiet and intense sides.
What Man Of Steel does that the Reeve Superman movies tend to stay away from is bring in outside artists to add depth and feel to the soundtrack. Grunge fans and 90s kids are sure to be ecstatic upon hearing the soulful howls of Chris Cornell's "Seasons" midway through the film. And in the gorgeously constructed teaser trailer for the reboot, L'Orchestra Cinematique contributed their hauntingly somber piece "Elegy".
"Seasons" by Chris Cornell
"Elegy" by L'Orchestra Cinematique
After seeing the film this weekend I can personally say that "Seasons" was perfectly implemented into the story of Superman by director Zack Snyder. The song is featured during a difficult time in the life of Clark Kent as he searches for purpose, meaning, and reason in his life. Cornell's lyrics "And the mirror shows another face / Another place to hide it all" very well reflect the situation that the 20-something Clark Kent finds himself in at this moment of the plot.
Man Of Steel may not have exceeded, or even met, the expectations of longtime fans, but it is still worth seeing considering it will become the second of the DC Comics trilogies. And as memory serves, it was the second Dark Knight film that truly blew up the franchise.