Justice League Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Justice League by Danny Elfman.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 95
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 79.1
Album Excellence: 87.9%
Justice League is a 2017 American superhero film directed by Zack Snyder and starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot & Jason Momoa. It is based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name and is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe. Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions. The score is composed by Danny Elfman.
This is it for DC, this is the big one. They did alright with Man Of Steel and Wonder Woman, but this is when it all comes together, or fall apart. There’s a solo Batman movie in the planning stages and I think Aquaman as well and probably The Flash so a lot of pressure. It looks to be funnier than the recent DC films which I think is a smart move. Fun equals cash and usually better movies as well. With Batman, Wonder Woman, possibly Superman and the other heroes there must be a number of themes as well and here comes the weird part. Apparently Danny Elfman, the composer is supposed to use John Williams’ Superman theme and his own Batman theme. Puzzling! What about Zimmer’s Batman and Superman theme? Are they out? What about Zimmer’s Wonder Woman theme? It was used in Wonder Woman, even though he didn’t do the score. I’m very confused, but more on that later. I don’t think I entirely trust Elfman with this even though he did an alright job for The Avengers. Of course we all know what a fantastic job he did on Burton’s Batman, but this isn’t 1989 and it isn’t Burton’s Batman. Well I’m intrigued. It’s a long one as well, 90 minutes of music, neatly wrapped in an hopefully fun and not so confusing time.
Well, Elfman is certainly bold and going with the main theme right away in the short ‘The Justice League Theme – Logos’ which is actually great and it does sound a bit like the classic superhero films used to sound like, but that’s the confusing part. Maybe I should just stop being confused and just enjoy the music. There’s even the first three notes of the original Batman theme in there, and I’m sure that’s intended. Elfman is presenting hero after hero, but it starts with ‘Hero’s Theme’, but who’s the hero here? The weird bass line in the beginning is well, strange, but I dig the horns. Elfman didn’t leave the epic at home and the sound is very big and heavy, just like a superhero film should sound like. I can’t fault the production here one bit. You can probably feel the skepticism here as you read my review and it’s true, I’m very skeptic, but I got to admit, it sounds pretty good and I’m warming to it faster than Superman’s heat vision. I’m more curious about what comes next though, as The Batman returns. It must be a big moment for Elfman having to score Batman again. It’s interesting because Zimmer’s theme is in there, particularly in the beginning. Elfman isn’t parading around with his Batman theme though because it’s not used yet.
Cyborg is an interesting character, a bit of a Robocop persona and Elfman’s theme in ‘Enter Cyborg’ is one of heroics, but calm and a bit sad as well. I didn’t feel the power here and I hope that there’s more coming. I’m curious whether Wonder Woman’s theme survives. I’m actually happy if it doesn’t because I really don’t like Zimmer’s theme. Elfman goes for the more classic superhero sound in ‘Wonder Woman Rescue’ which sounded like a 80s/90s version of Wonder Woman, although sadly there’s a hint of Zimmer’s theme here, but the "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" sound is pretty much killed in the mix which is great and I hope that’s an actual attempt to kill the theme and let Elfman’s theme take over. Who’s Steppenwolf though? ‘The Story Of Steppenwolf’ sounds massive and has a great monster bad guy motif.
Aquaman though? He’s going to be a big figure in the DCEU Universe I’m sure and Elfman has created a monstrous hero theme for him in ‘Aquaman In Atlantis’, lots of horns, strings and choir. I love it, although it’s hard to just focus on the theme itself and easier to focus on how monstrous and bad-ass it sounds in the first half. It sounds completely different in the second half, a bit boring in fact which is a shame. That first part was killer. And here we go. There’s more than a subtle hint in ‘Then There Were Three’ where Batman is concerned and Elfman gets to reprise his classic theme in not the most epic ways possible, but it’s there and it’s still as great as ever. If you have taken a look at the track list and times, you’ll notice a couple of bonus tracks near the end which is over 10 minutes long which features full extended versions of two cues, ‘The Tunnel Fight’ and ‘The Final Battle’ indicating that those two cues could be pretty epic. The 6+ minutes of ‘The Tunnel Fight’ is all kinds of superhero action fun. I swear I even heard Zod’s theme in there or parts of it. Surely not? I like it when Elfman foes big with the horns and metal clangs. It almost sound like someone listened to Judge Dredd back in the day. Another thing I definitely like is that it doesn’t sound too modern. It definitely tries to be like the classic superhero movies, but also keep a foothold into the modern universe which DC has created. They work well together, the styles I mean.
It’s true what they say though, ‘The World Needs Superman’ and here’s surely where it happens ladies and gentlemen, in a 1 minute cue called exactly that. Nope! Instead it’s a dark, a bit standard thriller fare. A big disappointment, as I had foreseen different things. The Flash is a fast guy, as fast as they come really, and in ‘Spark Of The Flash’ it’s the complete opposite for a little while but things speed up near the end into a decent theme. It’s interesting, but to me it sounds very similar to Blake Neely’s The Flash theme from the tv series, too similar.
Oh, here it is. ‘Friends And Foes’. As clear as day, the beginning of a fanfare we all know so well, possibly the greatest fanfare ever made. Elfman certainly hasn’t went all overboard with the classic themes and I think that’s a really good thing. I love ‘Friends And Foes’, not just because of the Superman hint, but the action and specially the horn sounds so wonderfully classic superhero it’s impossible not to love it. And so the heroes are united to kick ass, and that’s a great thing, musically and otherwise. Man this has got me pumped for the film, watching them all flex muscles together in a massively overdone slo-mo scene. Make it so! In ‘The Final Battle’ there is a massive surge of nostalgia thanks to Elfman’s Batman theme and of course Williams’ Superman theme. Hearing them together in a cue called ‘The Final Battle’ gives me hope and makes my geeky heart jump with joy. I know it’s not Reeves and Keaton, but dammit, this will be epic, mark my words.
So I’ve been thinking. What does it mean? Both the 89 Batman theme and the 78 Superman theme is clearly in this score "as advertised". I couldn’t hear the Zimmer Man Of Steel theme in here except in ‘Anti-Hero’s Theme’ at the end, plus I heard hints of his Dark Knight theme. Personally I think it’s all gone, those themes that is. They were great for the time, but this is literally a rebirth, a rebranding, some new, some old, some the same. So maybe this is what it means. Man Of Steel is gone and literally have to be reborn again and maybe that’s why the Williams’ theme is used. Same with Batman, maybe he’s reborn as well, particularly with Affleck hinting in every media outlet that he’s there for this movie and who knows what’s next. What is true though is that this score is big sounding and kicks ass in all the right places. It’s not perfect, and I freely admit I doubted Elfman, but now I think he’s brought the DCEU where it needs to be. This is the way forward. You’ve been given a golden opportunity DC, don’t screw this up.
2. The Justice League Theme – Logos
3. Hero’s Theme
4. Batman On The Roof
6. Wonder Woman Rescue
7. Hippolyta’s Arrow
8. The Story Of Steppenwolf
9. The Amazon Mother Box
12. Then There Were Three
13. The Tunnel Fight
16. Friends And Foes
17. Justice League United
19. Bruce And Diana
20. The Final Battle
21. A New Hope
22. Anti-Hero’s Theme
25. The Tunnel Fight (Full Length Bonus Track)
26. The Final Battle (Full Length Bonus Track)
27. Mother Russia (Bonus Track)