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Danny Elfman Opens Up About Music Work on JUSTICE LEAGUE

Danny Elfman Opens Up About Music Work on JUSTICE LEAGUE

Ahead of receiving the prestigious Max Steiner award for music achievement at the Hollywood in Vienna festival, renowned composer Danny Elfman spoke about many topics including his return to the DC Universe with his upcoming Justice League score.

The musician, who has done a lot of recognizable themes over the years including the score for the original Batman, spoke first about what approach he took, and whose signatures he borrowed from, for the film.

Speaking to billboard he said this about his experience with Justice League: “It was great. It was like I never left because I’m using the same thematic material that I used back then. It never actually went away [Laughs.] It just was great fun. There are a few little fan moments. I instated a moment of the Wonder Woman theme that Hans Zimmer did for Batman Vs. Superman, but I also had two minutes where I had the pleasure of saying, “Let’s do John Williams’ Superman.” and that for me was heaven, because now I have a melody to twist, and I’m using it in an actually very dark way, in a dark moment. It’s the kind of thing that some fans will notice. Some won’t. It’s a moment where we’re really not sure whose side he’s on.”

You have to admit that the Wonder Woman theme IS pretty good.

Speaking of what it was like to participate in essentially a remake he said: “The people at DC are starting to understand we’ve got these iconic bits from our past and that’s part of us, that’s part of our heritage — we shouldn’t run away from that. Contemporary thinking is, every time they reboot something, you have to start completely from scratch — which, of course, audiences will tell us again and again, is bullshit. Because the single-most surviving and loved theme in the world is Star Wars, which they had the good sense to not dump for the reboots. And every time it comes back, the audience goes crazy.”

So Wonder Woman and the Batman have themes, what about the rest of them? Elfman had something to say- and a role to play- with respect to at least a few more of the main characters.

“I created very simple motifs. There are so many themes, you can’t just do a big theme for everything. So i created a motif for Flash, for Aquaman and Cyborg — but they’re very simple things, and [DC] understood. I said, “These things may never be used again, but I’m giving you all the components, should you wish to have things to build on.” So they either will or they won’t, but that’s how I approach a project like this. You have to take the attitude that this is the beginning of a mythology and it all matters, it all comes to fruition, and with any luck they will.

I loved the people I worked with, they were wonderful. The DC guys were great. I kept talking about the DNA of John Williams in this other theme — using the DNA of Batman in these other variations, which were not the Batman theme — but it all derives from that… Musical themes are like genes, you carry the DNA along and it creates these subtle connections which are perceived on an unconscious level. It’s funny because I’m terrible at puzzles, but I love musical puzzles. It’s a different part of my brain.”

As a lover of good scores in film, I can’t wait. There are so many movies out there that would be nothing without their soundtrack, they’re hard to keep track of.

Justice League will come out soon now, so expect more marketing-through-stories to continue to pop up.

About The Author

J. Don Birnam

J. Don Birnam, a voting member of the New York Film Critics Online, has been a movie lover since he saw the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in theaters at a tender age, and has been a devoted student of American film history every since. His favorite films range from Back to the Future to West Side Story, depending on the time of day, and has a mildly unhealthy obsessions with the Academy Awards. Any similarity with the slightly unstable writer in the seminal 1944 film ‘The Lost Weekend’ is pure coincidence

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