“Danny Elfman returns to the world of super hero film. Can he succeed in capturing the likeness of the Justice League?”
*NOTE* This soundtrack does include non-orchestral tracks. These will not be covered in this review. This review is strictly based on the orchestral score.
Ah, Justice League. Many waited for this movie to come for ages and DC finally steps up to deliver it. However, I would like to start this review by pointing out a few things. Firstly, I have yet to see the film. So I’m going into this score with an unbiased view based solely on the music aspect of the film. Secondly, I may be in the minority here, but just as with other soundtracks I’ve heard, I don’t think this is as bad as everyone makes it out to be and a lot of the negative comments regarding it are, to be honest, pretty obscure and small arguments blown out of proportion due to the drama surrounding the actual filming of the movie. (I will go into detail more below). This score is MASSIVE to say the least, coming in at over 20 tracks. And again, I will NOT be commenting on anything regarding the actual film as I have yet to have seen it. Now, onto the review!
Starting off with “The Justice League Theme – Logos”, I assume this is to the equivalent of Marvel’s film openings/title reveals (which was written by Brian Tyler, fun fact). This short track (coming in at only 0:48) seems to try to set the tone of the over all themes. You have a touch of heroics and grand scale with the brass melody lines. I would like to point out here however, there are certain parts that do indeed remind me of past themes Elfman has written. In this case, mainly the original Spider-Man theme from the Sam Rami trilogy.
“Hero’s Theme”. This has your typical action/super hero styled music down. Short string sections opening into the brass playing the main themes. You can hear hints of the original Batman theme from Batman 1989 (Tim Burton) mixed in with the new Justice League themes. I believe you can also hear hints at the Hans Zimmer/Junkie XL themes for Batman (Batman v Superman) here as well, albeit a bit more subtle.
“Batman on the Roof”. This one is a bit more ominous, for obvious reasons. Batman isn’t exactly a bright and lively character. He’s more dark driven. You can especially here the original Batman reference here in the theme.
“Enter Cyborg”. This cue is much different from most others in this score. This is very toned down and more intimate. Soft pianos and woodwinds fill this up with strings giving great emotional themes and support throughout. It’s a nice change and for the most part a much more happy sounding cue. You can almost hear sadness in this one as I assume during the film, this is a big moment for Cyborg trying to deal with what little humanity he has left and seperate himself from machine.
“Wonder Woman Rescue”. I won’t comment much on this cue but you can hear your typical Elfman styled woodwind stabs in this. Very reminiscent of past quirky films like Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Glad to see the original Wonder Woman theme come in here as well because let’s be honest, it’s a great theme.
“The Story of Steppenwolf”. I can only assume this is a backstory section of the main villain. This does have a very dark feel to it, especially when bringing in the male choir sections. You can clearly hear an orchestral/string version of the quirky theme from Batman v Superman when Lex Luthor is around. So it seems that theme as taken over as inspiration for dark/evil villain themes in the DCU. However, again as with the main Justice League-Logos track, this one seems very similar to the Spider-Man theme from 2001.
“The Tunnel Fight”. There’s lots to cover on this one, but I will try to be as brief as I can. This one has a LOT of nods to other themes, both in this film and in others all over an action heavy cue. You can clearly hear elements of a new Flash theme developing here (more on that in a bit). You still have the main Justice League theme here as well and you can clearly hear nods to the Batman theme development as well. (More on this in a bit as well). The new Flash theme comes in pretty well a little over half way through this cue. Now, as most have pointed out, it’s similar in nature to the Flash theme from the CW show, stylistically. I’ve seen a lot of people comment on how it’s “ripped” off of the show. This is simply not the case. Looking at it from a music standpoint (and being a musician myself), when you create a theme for The Flash, you want it to represent the character. Something fast, light and even “feathery” perhaps. This is done perfectly here, in my opinion. You have the right amount of light and fast with the short string runs and yet the power comes in with the low brass sections. I will also touch on the batman theme in another track below (also a subject of a lot of controversy).
“Home”. This I can also imagine as being a part when Superman comes home. Lois and the world for that matter, have thought Superman dead. This cue is everything it needs to be. Soft, soothing and with just enough emotional turmoil to really help feel that emotion come through on the screen. You can almost feel how two people have been reunited after each thought they would never be again. I feel the emotional context was hit almost right on the nose with this cue. Also, while I’m on the subject of emotion, the next cue “Bruce and Diana” I feel is also well done regarding emotional context. Another very soft emotional ballad compared to the rest of the score which is full of gigantic “hero moments”. It’s nice to be able to take a breather.
“The Final Battle”. As the title states, this is the climax of the film. You hear a LOT of things going on in this one. Aside from it being a very action heavy cue. This cue features nods and snips of all the themes presented so far. You hear Flash’s theme, you hear hints of Wonder Woman’s theme and melody lines dedicated to other characters like Aquaman and Cyborg (**as both of these characters do not have a specific them set to them as of yet, they are more of thematic ideas). There’s even a direct easter egg/nod to the great John Williams and his work on Superman (1979) which was amazing to hear. And alas, THIS cue of all else, probably provides THE MOST controversy I’ve ever seen on a film score…
…The Batman Theme. Yes, this is a direct snip from the original 1989 Batman film, which Elfman also wrote. Many have argued; it doesn’t fit within the universe, it’s lazy writing, he ignores all of Hans Zimmer’s work, he ignores all of Junkie XL’s work. You know what? I think it’s glorious that it is used here. Not only is it a bit a fan service (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but it weaves much better in this action heavy moment than Junkie XL’s theme. I will also touch on said complaints. Right now.
First up; “It doesn’t fit within the universe”. To this I would have to disagree. Sure this is different from Junkie XL’s theme from Batman v Superman. But that is the intention. His theme, while touching on one element of the batman character (specifically the dark aspect), just wasn’t a heroic theme. It was dark as hell, but it wasn’t heroic. At the end of the day, Batman is still a hero, albeit a dark hero. Within the context of the rest of the score being more heroic in nature, this “new” batman theme introduced in the film fits a bit better. The dark, brooding theme I think would sound odd smacked in the middle of the epic and heroic Justice League Theme’s and Wonder Woman Theme (which itself is even more heroic sounding than Batman’s) or even the Superman Theme from “Man of Steel” (which if you hear in it’s full glory, is a very uplifting and heroic theme).
Next; “Lazy Writing”. Again I have to disagree. Many people assume that repeating a theme is being lazy. If this is the case, Hans Zimmer has been doing “lazy” writing for the better part of his career in the last decade. The Pirates movies are all based around three main themes (there’s 5 films), the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy has two Batman themes written throughout. That’s the thing about sequels. You can’t create a new theme for every movie as that theme has been tied to a character. So using the argument “lazy writing” isn’t a very good one. In this context, if he were to straight up repeat the themes from Hans and Junkie, it would be the same ideals.
Lastly; “He ignores all of Hans Zimmer’s and Junkie XL’s work”. Again this is untrue. Sure he created new themes and theme ideas for the likes of Cyborg, Aquaman, Flash and some villain themes. But he also uses themes from Batman v Superman as well as elements of Man of Steel. While they may not be very direct, but you can clearly hear elements of Junkie XL’s Batman theme as well as Hans Zimmer’s Superman theme. You can also clearly hear Lex Luthor’s quirky theme, given it’s in a different light, but it’s there. Much of this score was inspired by elements of the previous entries.
**As stated in an interview with Danny Elfman regarding the score for Justice League
While the score itself is a typical action blockbuster score, there are both elements of greatness and elements of mediocrity. What sets this film score apart is the vast amounts of work that was done to try to keep all these themes under one roof, which is no easy task by any means. A typical movie has a main hero theme, a villain theme and maybe a few others but can weave those throughout the narrative. This film has many characters, many with their own thematic ideas. Set aside from the controversy and drama regarding both the film and the music (which I, for one, think was vastly blown out of proportion by many people both critics and fans alike).
All in all, this is a very enjoyable film score.
- Sigrid – Everybody Knows
- Danny Elfman – The Justice League Theme – Logos
- Danny Elfman – Hero’s Theme
- Danny Elfman – Batman on the Roof
- Danny Elfman – Enter Cyborg
- Danny Elfman – Wonder Woman Rescue
- Danny Elfman – Hippolyta’s Arrow
- Danny Elfman – The Story of Steppenwolf
- Danny Elfman – The Amazon Mother Box
- Danny Elfman – Cyborg Meets Diana
- Danny Elfman – Aquaman In Atlantis
- Danny Elfman – Then There Were Three
- Danny Elfman – The Tunnel Fight
- Danny Elfman – The World Needs Superman
- Danny Elfman – Spark of The Flash
- Danny Elfman – Friends and Foes
- Danny Elfman – Justice League United
- Danny Elfman – Home
- Danny Elfman – Bruce and Diana
- Danny Elfman – The Final Battle
- Danny Elfman – A New Hope
- Danny Elfman – Anti-Hero’s Theme
- Gary Clarke Jr. and Junkie XL – Come Together
- The White Stripes – Icky Thump
- Danny Elfman – The Tunnel Fight (Full Length Bonus Track)
- Danny Elfman – The Final Battle (Full Length Bonus Track)
- Danny Elfman – Mother Russia (Bonus Track)
The Final Battle (Both regular and Bonus Track)
Bruce and Diana
Wonder Woman Rescue
Spark of The Flash
Least Favorite Tracks:
Then There Were Three
Justice League United
A New Hope
7.8 out of 10.