Few characters in superhero movie history has been brought to life on the big screen as often as Superman, most recently by Zack Snyder within the DC Extended Universe. And with every new iteration of Superman comes a new round of theme music - most of which has become iconic in the annals of movie scores over the years.
Superman's most memorable theme comes from music legend John Williams in the 1970s and '80s before Hans Zimmer took over composing duties within the DCEU. This included giving the last son of Krypton his own music in 2013's Man of Steel, which has become memorable alongside Henry Cavill's performance as Clark Kent and Superman.
But according to a new post on social media, that almost wasn't the case, as Snyder and his team examined a potential blast to the past before Zimmer came on board.
Zack Snyder Superman Music Request Nixed
Jay Oliva, a Man of Steel storyboard artist and frequent collaborator with Zack Snyder, clarified a rumor about Hans Zimmer's theme for Superman from the DCEU.
A fan shared an experience with someone who claimed that Snyder fans who didn't want Williams' score used for Cavill "hated Superman and all he stands for."
Oliva replied by explaining that both she and Snyder "loved that theme," but Warner Bros wouldn't actually let them use the music, instead opting for a new theme for Superman from Hans Zimmer:
"If I had heard that then I would have responded that both Zack and I loved that theme but the studio wouldn't let us use it because they wanted something new for this Superman. It turned out to be a good thing because Hanz' theme was perfect."
In August 2012, before Man of Steel premiered in theaters, Snyder shared with MovieWeb that he avoided actually listening to Williams' theme once Zimmer was brought on board:
“We had to say this is a Superman movie for the first time and you can’t then go ‘Oh, now let’s steal a little music’... So, yes it’s awesome music but Hans Zimmer is going to do something awesome.”
Only days before Man of Steel's release, Zimmer himself spoke to CBR about Williams' theme and how he tried to approach the new movie's theme in relation to what had been done before.
While calling Williams "the master," Zimmer noted how different Man of Steel would have been with Williams on the score and how reluctant Zimmer actually was to do the score in the first place. Snyder helped get him in a better place with the story being told, which allowed him to feel like he was coming out of Williams' shadow with the Superman theme:
"Let’s get one thing straight -- John is the master, so there’s no argument here. But I think if he had scored this version of Superman, he would have done completely different music. Lets make this interview about John Williams! There’s no composer who understands nuance better than John. I mean, “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List” -- those are impossible acts to pull off. For me, the problem was I’m a fan. I said I was the reluctant bride on this movie, and I kept saying no because of the looming shadow of John, until I sat down with Zack and I said, “Tell me the story,” which was so different and so much more about things that I knew about -- being a stranger in a strange land, being the kid that gets bullied, all of that stuff. [And] the word we were both talking about was humble."
Williams Almost Scored DCEU's Superman
The musical score is a quintessential part of any superhero movie, as shown often from composers like Alan Silvestri with the last two Avengers movies and Michael Giacchino with the MCU's Spider-Man trilogy. Marvel even took the opportunity in No Way Home to bring elements of musical themes from both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's movies to bring back memories of their own pre-MCU solo adventures.
For the DCEU's take on Superman, having John Williams theme would have certainly evoked the feelings of Christopher Reeves' Man of Steel from decades ago as Henry Cavill took over the role. But in the end, the franchise got its own unique voice with Hans Zimmer's score, taking the superhero genre further into the 21st century with a thrilling theme as Superman flew into battle.
Any studio thinking about using John Williams' music wouldn't be making a mistake, especially considering how many iconic scores he's created across the movie landscape over the years. But in the end, bringing something unique and new to the picture is usually a good direction as well.